One Small Step for Humanity, One Giant Leap for Axe

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screenshot by wannabeaudre

Has Axe finally moved on from the sex-crazed, “get hot girls,” misogyny?  In their new ad entitled, “Find Your Magic”, Axe is making it clear that you don’t need the six pack to be a man.  This may be a win for the company.  Maybe.

In the beginning, the ad references the insanely fit, overly sexualized males in fashion ads. Maybe a possible reference to their own past as well?

Then enters a deep, masculine voice.  The kind of voice you hear and think this advertisement may be making a turn towards hunting, meat, or some other stereotypical testosterone-themed ad.

There’s something different though. His sarcastic tone reveals the unattainable idea that every man needs a six pack to be attractive. It then references multiple identities or attributes of various men that make them attractive. It’s their “magic.”

From prominent noses to dance moves. There are a few identities that make this advertisement a win for Axe.

The first is a male in drag killin’ it on the dance floor with four inch heels. I mean this guy is workin’ it harder than I have ever seen with death drops and attitude beyond compare. The narrator praises with, “if you’re rockin’ those heels.”

The second is a guy with his date at a dance (or his wedding?) making moves in his wheelchair.  The date sits in his lap, both having the times of their lives to whatever music is playing.  Even though they’re the only ones at this dance, they don’t seem to mind.

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screenshot by wannabeaudre

The third identity that is worth mentioning is a subtle reference to a same-sex couple in a record store. One boy holds a record, longingly looking at the back of another boy’s head. As he turns around with a corresponding book, they make eye contact and realize they may have something in common. Even though it is subtle, a conversation may have ensued following the nonverbal interaction.

This advertisement is definitely, at least, a small step forward for Axe. However, I still have a few problems with it.

First: Even though the whole time they focus on not having a six pack, every male in the advertisement shown without a shirt is chiseled, good looking, and has a six pack. Hm, that seems a bit contradictory.

Second: The goal is still to attract a partner. It may not be about appearance anymore as the tool to use for attracting a mate, but Axe is still clear that the point of using their product and the point of your identity is to “get the partner.” It may not always be a girl, even though heteronormativity is still all over it, but you still have to acquire someone.

Third: Finally, there is still a theme of patriarchy. Yep, I dropped the p-word. Axe still puts forth the idea that the man is in control, having “the touch” for a women’s body. It’s the idea to “be a man,” “a cool guy,” a guy who is going to win the girl by opening her door or streaking through a field. It’s still highly masculinized.

 

Axe is definitely trying and I appreciate this advertisement compared to their notorious past. It was a good first step to inclusivity, but Axe has still has some work to do to win me over.

 

One thought on “One Small Step for Humanity, One Giant Leap for Axe

  1. I hadn’t seen this ad until I read your post. I have to say, it is way more inclusive than any other AXE ad I have seen before. I especially liked the drag scene and wheelchair dancing. These two instances specifically address and combat ideas of heteronormativity and able-ism–so way to go, AXE!
    I do see your point about the ad still being very masculine and communicating the idea that the product is all about attracting someone. If they could tweak it to be more about self-love and finding oneself attractive, they would have nailed it. But hey, this is definitely a start.
    Good post, very thought-provoking!

    Like

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