Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Stuff I Learned From the "Axe Effect"

And Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty...

So you’re walking down the aisles of Wal-Mart, land of everything you want. On this particular day someone is giving away free kittens in the parking lot. You pet kittens. It’s magical. And then you smell it; the powerful, strong, almost pungent odor. A group of boys walk by, none of which could be more than 15 years old, and that’s when it hits you. You’ve just been engulfed by an Axe cloud. That’s right, the “Hot” guys fragrance that was a staple during my junior high years. So maybe it IS a 90s kid thing, but the fact remains- Axe is still a leading line of body sprays, hair products, deodorants, shower gels and face creams.

If you haven’t already guessed, this is the second installment of my “Stuff I Learned” blog series. And the Axe products offer a wide array of knowledge! (Most of which can only be actualized if you buy an excessively large amount of Axe products).

via De Prem 


  1. Actual angels will literally fall from the sky, pursue you, and upon finding you throw their halos to the ground if you are wearing this heavenly fragrance. 

  2. Myself, along with droves of other women will bound through the jungle forests in near-nothing attire, fighting each other like animals until we all coincidentally find male Axe wearer.

  3. If you break into my apartment late at night and have nice, AXE styled hair, I will totally dismiss your break in and be happy with your presence.

  4. Hair is what a girl sees first, as long as you’re using AXE styling gel.

  5. If you wear the Apollo Axe products, you're probably going to be an astronaut. You can give your girl friend a rock and she'll love it, because "An astronaut never has to find the perfect gift."

  6. You will have endless girlfriends to bring to meet your parents if you wear Axe.

  7. If you SPRAY more, you GET more.

I’m sure all of this screams sugar, spice, and everything nice, but these marketing tactics are actually very sexist, meaning that the message is discriminatory or puts degrading stereotypes onto a particular sex. The notion that the wearer will have women falling all over them if they use a particular product is perpetuated by the idea that women are essentially objects used for expanding profit margins. And to me, that's just wrong. 

Take a look at some of the advertisements used by Axe.

"Any Excuse to Get Dirty"
Via Chris' Pop Culture Blog

Super Realistic
Via About.com

"The Long Lasting Axe Effect"
Via Marika-Barbie Blog

The moral of the “AXE EFFECT” is broken down into two parts:

  1. You aren’t a real man unless you unleash the power of intoxicating Axe products.
  2. Women will want you if you wear it. They will probably be wearing bikinis.

Now, let’s look at another Ad campaign from the same company. Dove. Dove's brand has built it's reputation by giving a voice to women outside of the stereotypical beauty promoted by mass media. Women with curves, women of age, women with freckles, women with healthy and beautiful bodies. And a lot of women LOVE Dove. But what if I told you Dove wasn't all puppies and rainbows, either? What are the underlying messages of this pro-real-beauty campaign?

Dove's Real Beauty Campaign
Via Ruminations in Communications

We love every body and stuff.
via C.K. Stenberg

Beauty is From the Inside, Out
via Longwood Blog 

Wait. I think you forgot what I said earlier. Dove and Axe are owned by the same company. Don’t panic and throw away your Dove Sensitive-Skin Rose scented hand soap just yet. Read this first. The same company, Unilever, is parenting both brands. Although this is a clear contradiction, the company says that they simply use different tactics for sales.

"Young men, like women, frequently suffer from poor self-esteem, lack of confidence and poor body image. Our advertising is primarily designed to give them a boost of confidence.

And it’s really hard to argue that either brand is doing a bad job at boosting self-confidence of consumers- but at what price? On one hand men are being told that stylized, hyper sexualized, model type women, the "ideal" women, will want them. On the other, women are being told that they are beautiful just the way they are, and to be true to themselves. Double edged sword much?

And on Dove's end there are some contradictions as well. I mean, the brand makes beauty products- so they want people to use their product to feel more beautiful- but the company often uses descriptions like "For normal to dark skin" on it's lotion bottles (because dark skin is "abnormal"?) and has this depicted in one of the advertisements:

Rate this ad, 1 to Racist Like Your Twitter Feed After Obama Got Re-elected
via Sad Hill News

Although Dove's racism is a lot more subtle than the huge display of sexism Axe perpetuates, women are no doubt being affected by both campaigns in many ways. I honestly feel like it's time to talk about real beauty, and what it means to real people. The products you are buying, whether marketed for men or for women, are made out of the same ingredients. Kinda like all of us, amiright? So let's be nice to each other and not put negative stereotypes on people and stuff, okay?

I can't take these commercials off the air, or ban racist/sexist advertising. I can only be aware of the underlying messages, and work my hardest not to perpetuate this rhetoric in my own speech or actions. I know this blog was kinda long, not very funny, and I'm sorry for not entertaining you more. Some things just aren't funny, I guess. If you've made it all the way to the end of this blog.... BRAVO! 

Now watch this video of Cricket the Kitten, cause it's cute.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this! I love it!

Julia Bodiford said...

Thank you! That means a lot to me. :)

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