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Ax targets Generation Z with an open-minded approach to attractiveness in new ads


Diving letter:

  • Unilever’s Ax men’s body spray launched a multichannel campaign bringing back the successful Ax Effect slogan that was abandoned five years ago. According to an announcement, the 360-degree push includes fresh content, packaging, graphics and newly formulated versions of body spray, antiperspirant and body wash.
  • At the heart of the campaign is a 60-second spot called “The Walk,” which shows a young man leaving his house after using Ax body spray in the background. The video is designed to show how Ax products “can turn an everyday stroll into an amazing journey of attraction,” the announcement said.
  • The “New Ax Effect” campaign is the brand’s attempt to appeal to open-minded Generation Z men. It’s the brand’s first collaboration with Interpublic’s The Martin Agency, which acquired 72andSunny from MDC Partners, although the change was not previously announced, Ad Age reported.

Dive Insight:

Ax’s latest campaign is a reinterpretation of the “Ax Effect” message that was dropped in 2016.

To reach Gen Z consumers who are growing up, Axes “The Walk” incorporates elements from the “Ax Effect” and “Find Your Magic”. The spot shows a man splattering himself with body spray and experiencing a new world of energy as he goes outside and attracts the attention of a wide range of women and men – and even a dog. The creative elements are meant to “resonate with this generation of men who are known to be open-minded when it comes to attraction,” said Ax’s press release. Not only is “The Walk” more inclusive of who the main character attracts, it comes at a time when people itches to go outside and meet others in person after months of isolation during the pandemic.

“Ax Effect” was replaced five years ago by the brand’s “Find Your Magic” effort, which aimed to be more inclusive in their depictions of masculinity. The earlier “Ax Effect” commercials featured portrayals of women who passed out helplessly over guys using the body spray, but were abandoned in the public discussion of “toxic masculinity” and sexist stereotypes in advertising. Although the change of tone came before the #MeToo movement expanded in 2017, its message reflected a growing awareness of the empowerment of women. Now the brand’s message is being updated once more.

“At Ax, we know guys everywhere can relate to wanting to be their best in the dating game,” Brand Director Mark Lodwick said in the announcement. “The New Ax Effect shows the evolution of our past creatives and gives our boys the ability to smell good and feel confident so they are ready for all possibilities of attraction.”

The brand hired graffiti artist Ben Tallon to update Ax’s packaging to reflect the sensibility of younger consumers who make up their target market. In addition to freshening up advertising and packaging, Ax has reformulated its line of men’s grooming products with a variety of ingredients, including herbal materials.

The ax changes come as Unilever seeks to create purpose built brands that fight climate change and social inequality. These efforts have become more apparent within the brand family as Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream continues to take a stand on political issues and Hellmann’s Mayonnaise urges consumers to avoid food waste. Unilever announced in February that it will be investing $ 2.4 billion over two years to support high-growth businesses such as beauty products, plant-based foods and e-commerce.


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