08/22/2012 06:48 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Ad Review: Axe - Susan Glenn

I am 99 percent sure that we have all had an intense crush on someone. Speaking from experience, I remember the feeling being so strong that I could only muster up the strength to admire her beauty from afar. The 'Susan Glenn' advert resurrected those memories by allowing me to cruise Kiefer Sutherland's stream of consciousness. I am very appreciative of the way the commercial gives viewers an insight into the thought process of a hormone-addled young man. I think the team at BBH (New York) did this in order to form parallels with reality and create a nostalgia that would connect to the personal experiences of the viewer. As we are guided through one man's psychedelic world of lust, love and passion we suddenly arrive in the dark present day, i.e. the protagonist's current reality without Susan Glenn. The sense of regret that emanates from Mr. Sutherland serves as a small deterrent to discourage young men from making the same mistake. In alignment with the powerful soliloquy and visuals, the commercial sends out a strong call to action urging young men to 'Fear No Susan Glenn.' This leads me to suggest that the use of the word 'fear' is an effort to further intensify the emotive nature of the commercial. I also think that the direct connection between the copy and the AXE deodorant present the product as an immediate cure for fear. In all honesty, it would not surprise me if this tactic led to a drastic increase in sales.

In terms of the overall advert I think it presents a new alternative to selling men's grooming products. The commercial was not riddled with cliché alpha male elements. Instead, it displayed the vulnerability and weakness of a young man in love/lust. In addition, the campaign seems to carry an undertone of self-improvement. This is demonstrated through the short and effective copy encouraging the audience to overcome their fears and be pragmatic in achieving victories.

The presentation of Susan Glenn serving as a metaphorical representation of all our fears, passions and obsessions makes this advert quite universal in its message. In connection to the point I made earlier, I do find it quite outrageous that the campaign presents Axe as the antidote to fear and vulnerability. I also think that the emphasis on the word 'fear' creates a lasting impact on young men because it threatens the male ego. It is understandable that the commercial aim of the campaign is to increase the sales of Axe products, but it is quite clear that the crux of this advert is based on self-confidence and self-esteem. I personally thought it was a little too simplistic to present fear as the greatest enemy to copulation and Axe as the solution. It is very important for viewers to not confuse fear with self-esteem and self-confidence.

I do applaud that the advert didn't just sell a false dream. i.e. by spraying yourself with Axe you will automatically become God's gift to all women. I think it was refreshing for Axe and BBH (New York) to take a different approach in communicating to the young man still trying to understand the world of lust, love and sex. However, I think that demeaning vulnerability and weakness reinforces the notion that you have to be a brutish, fearless alpha male to get ahead in life. When we know in reality that is not always the case.