Many believe in the correlation between scent and attraction. However, the appealing powers of pheromones for enticing the opposite sex may be often been exaggerated – especially by advertisers trying to sell pheromone-based scents and sprays, which they claim will make men irresistible to women.
A lot of men deny that they wear perfume, and they creatively disguise it into body spray, daily fragrance, cologne, or after-shave. Some are even ready to spend bottom dollar for designer’s men cologne, but not few prefer to spend less than $10 for popular male’s fragrance products like AXE.
Axe, also known as Lynx, was first launched in France back in 1983, and was introduced in the United States in 2002. Today, it has turned into a brand of a full line of grooming products including daily fragrance sprays, antiperspirants, shampoos, and styling products.
AXE was famous with its controversial, supposed to be funny advertising campaign, which suggested that AXE’s products helped men to attract women. Although it has been labeled for sexism, the insinuation of “The AXE Effect” gave men the edge at the mating game went global in 2002. Selling sex became AXE’s benchmark to boost 20 percent of sales each year, especially among younger target market from age 18 to 24.
One AXE 2003 commercial featured thousands of women in skimpy bikinis were running fiercely bare-footed, primal like wild animals, to hunt the one man who was dousing AXE fragrance aggressively all over his body. Following the guy’s triumphant smile, seducing female’s voice closed the video, “Spray more get more, The Axe Effect.”
Users like Pascal Fahr from Germany said, “The advertisements were witty and convincing: Use AXE and girls like you.” Stephen Hardy, another former user agreed, “I used to like it when I was 17, well, maybe I liked the commercial more than the smell.” Yet, some guys like Thomas Kister and Rey Van de Craats use AXE simply because it gets the job done.
Being curious, I grabbed two bottles of AXE from Wallgreens during a buy-one-get-one-free promo. One is the infamous AXE Daily Fragrance Gold Temptation; its smell is strong, addictive, masculine, and comforting − sweet like a lava chocolate cake that melts in one bite, fresh like a tangerine that revives the taste buds, and bold like the spicy cayenne that gives exotic twists. My second choice is AXE White Label Air, which fuses the sensations of milky coconut, refreshing lemon juice, and warm ginger smells. The tropical classic aroma is intoxicating, like sipping pina colada in a smoky bar.
One day, I did my own little experiment by testing AXE on myself. I was walking around, smelling like a musky teenage boy. Mostly nothing happened. Apparently, people feel uncomfortable commenting on others’ scent in general, even when the smell is extremely overwhelming that might make the whole room gag. So I began asking others bluntly on the pungent smell, and to my surprise, five women gave me the same response: The scent brought back the memory of their “teenage boyfriends”.
“It reminds me of the locker room in gym class when everyone would spray obscene amount of AXE as opposed to showering,” many agreed with Hayden Steinbock. “Think about the prepubescent teenagers who have no idea what smells good, that’s what everyone used to buy in the middle school,” the 24-year-old continued.
Unintentionally, the AXE marketing strategy has created a counter effect. Once people know the smell is AXE, they tend to associate it with adolescent male, insecure novices who need the most help in getting women. AXE commercials end up with the advertisement of false hope.
But that was then, in the era of feminism and gender revolution, the world of men’s fragrance is also changing. After years being in the crosshairs of critics, AXE finally switched its gear. "For Lynx (AXE), scantily clad women are somewhat a thing of the past. We are re-inventing the brand so sex will become a bit less central, and guys themselves more so," stated brand manager David Titman, quoted recently from Vogue.
A new theme emerged in AXE packaging and advertisement as a part of the latest “Find Your Magic” campaign. The one-minute video captured a broad range of individuals, “Man, who needs looks when you got the books; or books when you got some balls… Who needs some other thing when you got your thing.” Today it emphasizes its focus on being confident and being authentic to oneself.
Gone are the only connotations that AXE will make guys get laid. Instead, AXE is joining the movement of self-liberation and gender fluidity, which can be summarized in the official video description, “No must-have, must-be, fashion norms or body standards. The most attractive man you can be is yourself. So find what makes you, you. Then work on it.” (MT)
"AXE | Deodorant & Antiperspirant | Men's Hair Products." AXE | Deodorant & Antiperspirant | Men's Hair Products. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.
Herz, Rachel. "The Science Of Scent & Attraction." AskMen. AXE. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.
Irvine, Susan. "Perfect Chemistry." Vogue UK. 17 Oct. 2013. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.
McManis, Sam. "Amusing or Offensive, Axe Ads Show That Sexism Sells." The Seattle Times. 04 Dec. 2007. Web. 07 Apr. 2016.