- Unilever's Axe men's body spray launched a multichannel campaign that brings back its successful "Axe Effect" tagline that had been abandoned five years ago. The 360-degree push includes fresh content, packaging, graphics and reformulated versions of its body spray, antiperspirant and body wash, per an announcement.
- The centerpiece of the campaign is a 60-second spot called "The Walk" that shows a young man leaving his house after using Axe body spray, drawing attention from a diverse group of people while the song "Irresistible" by Australian rapper Jordan Dennis plays in the background. The video is designed to showcase how Axe products "can transform an everyday walk into an amazing journey of attraction," according to the announcement.
- The "New Axe Effect" campaign is the brand's attempt to target open-minded Gen Z males. It is the first of the brand's work with Interpublic's The Martin Agency, which took over from MDC Partners' 72andSunny, though the change hadn't been announced previously, Ad Age reported.
Axe's latest campaign is a reimagination of its "Axe Effect" messaging that had been dropped in 2016, with the latest iteration being designed to reflect how ideas about attraction have evolved in the past five years and to appeal to open-minded Gen Z.
To reach Gen Z consumers coming of age, Axe's "The Walk" includes elements from the "Axe Effect" and "Find Your Magic." The spot shows a guy who spritzes himself with body spray and experiences a re-energized world as he walks outside, drawing attention from a broad group of women and men — and even one dog. The creative elements are intended "to resonate with this generation of men who are notoriously open-minded when it comes to attraction," according to Axe's press release. In addition to being more inclusive in who the main character attracts, "The Walk" comes at a time when people are itching to get outside and meet others in person after months of isolation during the pandemic.
"Axe Effect" was replaced five years ago with the brand's "Find Your Magic" effort, which sought to be more inclusive in its depictions of masculinity. Its former "Axe Effect" advertising had been characterized by depictions of women helplessly swooning over guys who used the body spray, but was abandoned amid public discussions about "toxic masculinity" and sexist stereotypes in advertising. Though the shift in tone predated the expansion of the #MeToo movement in 2017, its messaging reflected a growing awareness of women's empowerment. Now the brand's messaging is being updated once again.
"At Axe, we know guys everywhere can relate to the desire to put their best foot forward in the dating game," Brand Director Mark Lodwick said in the announcement. "The New Axe Effect shows the evolution of our past creative and gives our guys the opportunity to smell good and feel confident so they're ready for all possibilities of attraction."
The brand enlisted graffiti artist Ben Tallon to update Axe's packaging to reflect the sensibilities of younger consumers who make up its target market. In addition to refreshing its advertising and packaging, Axe reformulated its line of men's grooming products with different ingredients including plant-based materials.
The Axe changes come as Unilever seeks to develop purpose-driven brands that fight climate change and social inequality. Those efforts have become more evident among its family of brands, as Ben & Jerry's ice cream continues to take a stand on political issues and Hellmann's mayonnaise urges consumers to avoid wasting food. Unilever in February said it would invest $2.4 billion over two years to support high-growth business segments like beauty products, plant-based food and e-commerce.