- Unilever men's grooming brand Axe and Walt Disney's Marvel Entertainment have partnered to create a new set of super heroes based on Axe's new Ice Chill products, the two companies revealed in a press release. The heroic new characters are called The Fresh-Men, and are a group of high school students who have the super power to "stay chill."
- The brands have created a five-part video comic series, which is being released one video at a time on Axe.com/Marvel. The Fresh-Men series has a soundtrack created by Mass Appeal featuring original songs inspired by The Fresh-Men characters from artists such as Dave East, Kodie Shane, and 070 Phi. Axe released the mixtape on Spotify and on the Axe Marvel webpage.
- The videos feature rapper/actor SuperDuperKyle who previously worked with Axe on its high school Senior Orientation program. He will promote the new series at Comic-Con in San Diego, where he will do a meet and greet with fans and promote a limited-edition print comic book of the series.
The Marvel partnership was inspired by proprietary research exploring franchise properties, fandom and interconnected stories, according to the press release about the news, and shows how Axe hopes to deepen its connections with consumers through the kind of content and experiences that its target audience is interested in. The video series, mixtape and live activations are a way for Axe to get in front of its target audience as ad-free media options proliferate in a fragmenting media landscape where over-the-top programming platforms like Netflix, mobile games and other formats are increasingly popular.
The story features a group of young high school students at a school of science and technology with connections to Marvel's Black Panther character. The narrative supports Axe's mission to evolve beyond traditional gender stereotypes to be more in line with younger consumers by turning self-confidence into a super power. Beauty and health brands including and direct-to-consumer companies like Harry's and Dollar Shave Club as well as marketers across a number of product categories are looking for ways to reach beyond traditional male stereotypes in their marketing.
By promoting the comic at Comic Con, Axe will be in the spotlight in front of thousands of potential new consumers who have an interest in comics. And the Spotify playlist adds a cross channel way to draw music fans into the video content.
The Axe web series also allows Marvel to promote its characters like Black Panther to a shared target audience. Marvel has been known to partner with brands to help promote its properties. For the latest Spider-Man film, Marvel partnered with a number of brands to pitch the film, with ads for the film appearing on more than 500 million bottles of Dr. Pepper and inside Burger King meal boxes, according to a report from Promo Marketing.