Axe and Dove – Two Messages, Same Company

So I know we have all heard of Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign. In fact, I believe that some of my fellow bloggers have previously written about it, or at least mentioned it in their posts. As a female who has lived her entire life having beauty ads crammed down her throat (as most female have) it is kind of refreshing to see ads that AREN’T telling me that I am too fat, my skin is too dry, my hair is too frizzy, my face is too pimply…I could go on and on. These ads really push self-esteem, confidence, and “loving the skin you are in”, so to speak. Anyone else choke up when they watched Real Beauty Sketches? Probably every freakin’ one of you – which just goes to show how much of an effect the beauty industry really does have on the feminine psyche. Dove is trying to help us win back some of the self-esteem we lost when we were really young…right?

Well imagine my surprise when I saw this in one of my classes this week. Unilever, the giant corporation that owns and markets Dove products…also owns and markets Axe products. When I realized this, I literally felt Dove’s feel good message seeping out of me, and flying straight out the window. While Dove is pushing this message to women – “Honey you are just so beautiful! You can do anything! You’re inspiring and you ROCK! Now go be the best you that you can be, and don’t forget to buy some Dove shampoo, body wash, lotion, deodorant, and whatever the HELL else you’re using to make yourself that darn pretty!” – Axe is pushing a completely different message.

Well THAT is incredibly offensive.
Well THAT is incredibly offensive.

Axe essentially communicates to young men that if they use Axe products, sex-starved women that look like Gisele Bundchen are literally going to beg to be banged. Gorgeous angel women will FALL OUT OF THE SKY in order to screw guys that wear Axe. Women will swim through an ocean in order to climb some random Axe-sprayed dude like a tree. They will immediately strip down naked once the mere WHIFF of Axe tickles their nose hairs…

Oh shit, the halo is broken.
Oh shit, the halo is broken.


I find it incredibly offensive and ‘icky’ that the same company that markets self-esteem to girls and women of all ages is sending young males the message that women are animals to be attracted by pheromones – yes, Axe would be the pheromones. The sexual objectification is so blatant in these ads that I don’t understand how they are still on the air. You would think that, by now, people would have demanded for that stupid ass shit to STOP.

But alas, the general public seems cool with it. I’m no marketing major…but I do know about Corporate Social Responsibility. CSR, if you don’t know, is basically just the company’s sense of responsibility towards the community that they are impacting with their ads, products, mere existence, etc. In the case of Dove, I think that Unilever probably measures up on that front. They are trying to get their message about ‘real beauty’ across to the general public. That’s fine.

What about Axe though, Unilever? Hmmm? Do you really think that it’s socially responsible to teach young men that women are essentially animals to be attracted by “Excite” and “Temptation” scents? No. No, Unilever, I am telling you that it isn’t socially responsible. Women cannot be lured by sexy smells alone. There are other things that we take into account when picking a male mate – like whether or not the dude can do basic multiplication, or string a sentence together, for starters. God.

Take a step back as a society and think about what these corporations are doing to our culture. This might be a cynical outlook, but I for one, never trust what companies tell me in an ad. I will keep buying Dove because, dammit, I just really can’t help that I love the “harmonious scents of succulent plum and pure sakura blossom”. But I won’t ever forget that they are owned by the same company who also market straight female sex to young guys. That’s, frankly, not something that I can overlook.

4 thoughts on “Axe and Dove – Two Messages, Same Company

  1. I love that you bring up corporate social responsibility. It is as is they ignore their responsibility to the public when they market these (dare I say, foul-smelling) products to men, attempting to show them that women will want them if they use it. And what if a woman doesn’t want it? Women have brains, and if Unilever believes that Axe products will cloud the thoughts and actions of women just with one whiff, that’s just sad. Quite frankly, its also scary.


  2. I agree on that level of corporate social responsibility. It is when companies make marketing moves like this that make me question other companies who seem to support women. Are you doing it because you truly believe in the message or because you know it will increase that consumer base? I’ve seen a lot of articles about that with pink money and the spending power of the LGBT community. Companies notice these things and will appeal to that group whether or not their heart is fully in the message.


    1. It’s really frustrating to never know if I’m actually buying into a good cause, or if I’m just buying into crap. I think the ad industry/certain companies need to check their CSR, because it very clearly isn’t measuring up…


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