Time and time again, Axe has told the masses that their body spray makes men more attractive to women -- who they present as brainless (sometimes headless) objects who exist to please men. And while the brand's newest ad campaign deviates slightly from that message, it's hardly less frustrating.
In this campaign, Axe decided to focus on women: specifically, the fairer gender's supposedly ever-growing hotness. "The world is facing one of the biggest crises in the history of history," the narrator of the commercial, uploaded to YouTube on July 2nd, says. "Girls are getting hotter and hotter."
Yes, women's appearances constitute a "crisis" according to Axe, and one that is distracting men left and right, causing them to stumble, create explosions in laboratories and get into car accidents. Luckily, Axe is there to save the day and protect the menfolk from these hot, hot ladies! And while this commercial may have been intended to be lighthearted, some feel that its implications are anything but.
This ridiculous ad shifts blame of men’s poor behavior onto women, which is completely absurd and insulting to all females -- not to mention directly perpetuates ... the idea that women’s appearances are somehow justification for men being “unable to control themselves.” With all the victim-blaming out there, this is a terrible thing to continue insinuating.
But Axe's ad isn't just bad for women. The campaign also insults and undermines men. "This ad promotes the belief that all men ... are incapable of controlling themselves when women are nearby," Escobar wrote. "By this logic, men are no longer capable of being respectful friends, students, colleagues or strangers -- that they need an actual product to manage their own behavioral problems -- and that is simply not true."
This is especially upsetting when you consider who Axe is targeting. As one Jezebel Groupthink user observed, "The use of the word 'girls' is a pretty clear indicator that [Axe's] target audience is young." In fact, Axe's brand development director, Mike Dwyer, has confirmed that Axe targets men ages 18-24. So while the idea that women are essentially equated with their sexual appeal is a pretty damaging message to send to any man, Axe is targeting men who are still forming their core ideas about how to view and treat women.
Instead of marketing products by insulting both men and women, it would be great if Axe could learn from highly successful ad campaigns like these, which managed to effectively sell their products without relying on tired ideas about gender. It's time to move beyond the "girls are hot, boys will be boys" narratives. C'mon Axe, get more creative.