The common view for Axe, the popular deodorant and men’s care company, and its advertisements is that Axe has always catered to the male stereotypes and sexualization of the product and brand. For many years, the company’s adverts for its deodorants have always contained sexy women and how Axe provides support in having those sexy women, or even angels, fall in love with young men.
Unilever’s Axe has been positioned this way for decades, the association to these types of ads have become so well-known and established that people can easily distinguish it from different brands.
Fighting “toxic masculinity”
Since last year, Axe has had a breakthrough. The men’s care product manufacturer has now turned its energy, and advertising budget, towards defeating its previous ideals. They released the “Find your Magic” campaign with an all-inclusive TV advertisement that focused on embracing what makes a person a man.
Rather than filling it with the common items of beautiful women jumping after a man using Axe’s products, it was filled with normal men who were suggested to embrace their individual version of what it is to be a man and to get rid of male gender stereotypes and norms.
This year, creative agency 72andSunny Amsterdam provides another memorable ad, this time focusing on the real-life questions that young men ask in private to their search engines.
This year’s sequel, “Is it ok for guys?” provides viewers with an inside look on the tribulations and problems young men go through but are afraid to ask due to traditional views on what men should be. The video asks questions such as “Is it ok or a guy to wear pink?,” “is it ok to be skinny?,” and “is it ok to have long hair?”
Axe’s first video went through some of the similar questions and situations, but here it goes deeper. Rather than shallow references and support, AXE has dived into the deep end by truthfully showing actual Google searches that the young men of today use. The campaign has done some significant research on the matter.
The video is fully supported through research on real Google searches. Other campaigns have successfully used this to support claims and help others, such as this UN women’s ad.
According to Axe, around 59% of men believe they should act strong even if they feel scared, and nearly half think they shouldn’t ask for help with their problems. The brand has stated that it hopes this new work and campaign helps “to break the cycle of toxic masculinity by providing guys with resources to live more freely.”
Helping young men
The campaign has shed some deep and emotional light on how today’s male youth have been going through questions about their masculinity, the definition of gender norms and stereotypes, how to fit in, and even what it is to be a man.
While these are some common questions that many males may ask, an ad like this could be a fundamental breakthrough in a country like Egypt. Egypt continues to strictly embrace and defend age-old male stereotypes, to the point that some men may be attacked or disowned by family for defying them. Young males are forced to function with immense pressure to follow a certain path and the traditional roles of a man.
So far, advertising in the MENA region has not addressed the issue but perhaps they should. An ad or campaign such as Axe’s could provide much needed support to the country’s youth.
Do you think that Egyptian and MENA companies should address social issues such as this? Have you seen an advertisement in Egypt that does? Let us know in the comments.