Going inside one of the most famously salacious TV ads of the last decade to learn how an iconic campaign gets made and why it's possible to sell too well
In general, women tend to be more easily persuaded by ads that are more romantic than sexual, ones that emphasize commitment, devotion, and partnership. Not surprisingly, men, on the other hand, respond to sexual innuendo and women in bikinis, especially when the ads or commercials are leavened with a heaping dose of adolescent humor.
Axe, a line of men's personal-care products that includes deodorant body sprays, sticks, and roll-ons, and shampoos, is renowned in marketing circles for
how it has craftily positioned its products as bottled pheromones -- magical
potions that can transform the greasiest, scrawniest, most acne-prone schlub into a conﬁdent, gorgeous, chiseled sex magnet. The
behind-the-scenes story of how Unilever created this now-legendary
Axe campaign isn't just another demonstration of the power of sex in
advertising; it's also a fascinating example of just how deeply companies and marketers probe the depths of our inner psyches -- our hopes,
dreams, and daydreams -- in the service of crafting the kinds of provocative, scandalously sexual, and smashingly successful campaigns that
push the very limits of advertising as we know it.
A LOVE POTION FOR NERVOUS TEENS
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.