If you’ve watched any male-targeted TV programming in the last five years, you know that it only takes one squirt of Axe body spray to turn the pudgiest sportsbar refugee into a rampaging sex god with the ladies. And now the cologne company has decided to turn to the comics audience with an interactive graphic novel. YOU can view the idea for Axe Anarchy in the above video — basically normal looking schlubs and super hot women in the Brokeback pose. But all can contribute!
Social Times reported that the fans can shape the story by voting to cast the final Anarchy girl and making suggestions as far as where the action should take place.
Axe, which promotes its line of men’s products as the secret to getting any woman, shouldn’t expect AdWeek among its fans.
“It’s the first crowdsourced soft-porn fantasy adventure in comic format!” proclaimed the publication as it criticizes Axe for its objectification of women.
While this is what you would expect from the Axe brand, their overall marketing strategy is an amazing example of advertising through psychology, as this excerpt from the book Brandwashed reports. Unilever, the company behand Axe, carried out extensive marketing studies to find out how to market to the lonely man searching for a mate:
Unilever accompanied roughly 100 males (identical studies were later carried out across other European countries, North America, and Latin America) ages 15 to 50 to the pubs until three or four in the morning and (soberly, while secretly taking copious notes) watched them in action. After poring over their pages and pages of notes, via a process known in the industry as “segmentation,” the Unilever team isolated six psychological proﬁles of the male animal — and the potential Axe user: the Predator, the Natural Talent, the Marriage-Material Guy, Always the Friend, the Insecure Novice, and the Enthusiastic Novice.
Targeting the Insecure Novice and Enthusiastic Novice with their ads, Unilever experienced wild success, as hopeful barhoppers flocked to the spray as voraciously as the girls in the Axe ads and making it the #1 men’s fragrance brand. However, the imaging actually backfired:
The problem was, the ads had worked too well in persuading the Insecure Novices and Enthusiastic Novices to buy the product. Geeks and dorks everywhere were now buying Axe by the caseload, and it was hurting the brand’s image. Eventually (in the United States, at least), to most high-school and college-age males, Axe had essentially become the brand for pathetic losers and, not surprisingly, sales took a huge hit.
Then Axe faced another big problem. Insecure high-school students had been so convincingly persuaded that Axe would make them sexually appealing that they began completely dousing themselves in it. According to CBC News, “Some boys have been dousing themselves in Axe, apparently believing commercials that show a young man applying the deodorant and being immediately hit on by beautiful women.” It got to the point where the students were reeking so heavily of it that it was becoming a distraction at school. So much so that in Minnesota, school- district ofﬁcials attempted to ban it, claiming that “the man spray has been abused, and the aerosol stench is a hazard for students and faculty.”
We haven’t seen Unilever’s marketing study for the interactive soft core graphic novel….but it sure would be interesting reading, wouldn’t it?
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.