AXEPIRATION

Today, I will bare my teenage soul to tell a short story about how I became loyal to a certain brand.

My hormones started kicking in at the age of 12; incidentally, the same year as receiving sex education but the hormones definitely kicked in a few months before we reached that part of the textbook.  I had my first crush that year.  She went on to play a little joke on me by pretending to like me.  The little confidence  I had, was shattered.

Not really, it wasn’t shattered, but I always had little confidence.  I wasn’t good looking, not at 12 especially!  I couldn’t get myself to talk to the girls I fancied – by girls I mean different girls over the years, never more than one girl at one time!  Though I never asked any of them out, I had confessed feelings and asked some to the prom or school dance.  None of those ever worked out either.

I see you as a friend.

Sorry, I’m interested in someone else.

Sorry, I’m not going to the dance.

Sorry, I already said no to a friend who likes me so if I went with you, it would be really off.

Yes, I’ll go to the prom with you!
*Next day*
Hey, so a really good friend of mine has flown in and I was hoping he would because I wanted to go to the prom with him…soooo…I’m sorry.

I think you get the picture.

I’m not quite sure what changed when I was 13 but I started caring a lot more about the way I looked.  I was very conscious of my hair – the middle-parting hairstyle from 13-15; think Nick of the Backstreet Boys but not inspired by him!  Gelled spikes transformed into gelled quiff for several years after that.

Image Source: http://static.businessofcinema.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Dil-Chahta-Hai-Cover-Pic.jpg

I became more fashion conscious, especially after the Bollywood hit Dil Chahta Hai.

You see, getting a girl wasn’t easy; however, I felt that a good look would at least help my cause – perhaps make the girl more willing to talk to me.  Looks was definitely the easier element to control.

I would shower every morning to feel clean and I believe I looked clean.  Hair would always be on point thanks to hair gel.  I think I used roll-on deodorants initially, something my mother introduced me to.  They were antiperspirant; considering I lived in Saudi and played in the sun quite often, or at least was exposed to the heat quite often during school hours, body odor was another concern I could remove.

Despite taking all these steps, I was still single, not ready to mingle.  It didn’t help that I did manage to make some female friends who just would not understand why I couldn’t get a girl I wanted because apparently I was funny, smart, etc.  I won’t go into self-analysis but let’s just say I wasn’t the most confident person and even less so when it came to pretty girls.

Either way, getting a girl, for me, was just as important as succeeding in sports, I don’t know why, but it was.  Anyone who knows me, knows how important sports has been in my life.  However, I just did not know what it took to make a girl like me and I would mull over this for many days a year.

Wasn’t there an easy way?

It must have been some time in my final year in high school that I saw my first AXE commercial.  I cannot recall how it went but it struck a chord with me immediately!

Identifying with the Protagonist

The protagonist in the AXE commercials was just an ordinary guy, my age or a little older, just going about his business.  No girlfriend, or nothing to suggest so at least.  It may not be evident in the beginning of those ads but during some of the commercials you’d see the guy check out a pretty girl with those hopeful eyes with the words I wish bouncing around in his head; or, at least he would be indifferent to a pretty girl because it’s just not going to happen.

What confirms that this guy is me is his surprise at the pretty girl’s behavior towards him.  He does not expect it at all but is more than pleasantly surprised.  Who wouldn’t be?  I certainly would and that is me right there, in that ad – a normal guy with confidence issues when it comes to approaching pretty girls.  If a pretty girl made the first move I’d be, for lack of a better phrase, chuffed to bits!

Let me link you to a few of those spots so you know what I mean:

The Idea

Yes, the whole idea is a little ridiculous; but the execution has always been brilliant.  The commercials are hilarious and witty.  There was enough realism in the story line, acting, and depiction of characters for it to resonate with me.  I love a bit of wit and humor and the producers of the adverts blended the fantasy element seamlessly.

The idea that a deodorant can smell so good that it saves me from having to make the dreaded first move with a pretty girl made me dream of the possibility!

Deep down I knew it would be a stretch that this could actually be achieved but considering I was a desperate boy looking for easier solutions than make an impression, this was it.  Let’s give it a try, I thought.

Let me re-emphasize how impossible it seemed to guys like me to break that barrier…that barrier made up of God knows what which stood between us and the pretty girl; the pretty girl just seemed absolutely unattainable.  And here was a brand which said

Don’t worry mate, we got you!

The Product

Luckily, it was easily available.  AXE actually had a good range and I remember my favorite back then was a scent named Phoenix.  I graduated high school without any girl success or any confirmation that AXE’s scent appealed to anyone or not.  However, since I liked the smell, I continued using it.

Okay my friend didn't look like her!

Okay my friend didn’t look like her!

One evening, though, during my first year in university, a female friend picked me up from my dorm.  As I sat in the car she sniffs and goes

Mmmm nice, what are you wearing?

I could not believe my ears!  I grinned and said

the AXE effect!

in a believe-it-or-not sort of way.  She smiled back and said

well, it definitely works!

 axe-phoenix-deodorant-body-spray-4oz-1_2

No, I didn’t try to make a move on her or go out with her or anything but it was validation for me.  Validation that this product does appeal to the senses as it claims it does.  Ever since then I haven’t had to worry about the way I smell.  It’s one less head ache and one more element of confidence.

Loyalty

I’m loyal to the brand because of the confidence it gives.  Their advertising, I’ll admit, has been consistent for most years and that has also helped retain me as a consumer.  Moreover, their continuous innovation with their range has also helped.  They seem to hit the nail on the head with their new fragrances as well so I’m always on the look out for those.

I’m not sure why it’s been re-named or launched as Lynx in a lot of markets, nor can I bothered to do the research on that, but whenever possible I look for AXE and not Lynx.  I don’t see myself changing my deodorant brand any time soon; despite the brilliance that was Old Spice’s campaign some years ago.

Speaking of Which…

I loved Old Spice’s comeback campaign some years ago [the man your man should smell like or something along those lines] but it just did not trigger that want to buy the product.  That ad was not for me.  Sure, it was witty and humorous but it just did not resonate with me the way AXE’s commercials did.

This is where a certain concept comes in; a concept which I usually have massive doubts over especially the way it is used to justify a lot of advertising in Pakistan – aspiration.  It’s killing me to admit it but the marketers used aspiration with aplomb in their communication.  Having a pretty girl fall for me so easily was something I aspired to back then and I think there were plenty of guys like me out there, if not worse than me!

A lot of guys may not know this as well, I certainly didn’t back then; ladies please correct me if I’m wrong but a guy wearing the right scent is quite a plus.  The marketers hit on a couple of winning insights for AXE and hats off to the agency for coming up with the creative.

Wrapping it Up

Luckily I don’t hope for the best in the ladies department when using AXE now but the product is solid hence the continuity with the brand.  It’s another reminder that no matter how creative your advertising and/or promotion; if you product doesn’t deliver, it won’t last.

Apart from some fellow who tried suing Unilever in India some years ago for failing to land him a girl in his lap after using AXE, I don’t think any guy has realistically expected that the brand would make THAT much easier to get a girl.  Nevertheless, they brought out our deepest wish onto the screen without making us look like the desperadoes we were and that clicked.

I’ll leave you with a few more memorable, PG rated, AXE commercials.  There are plenty more of them, some with a bit more heat.  If you haven’t seen their ads for the bom chicka wah wah range then those are a must see as well!

Image Sources:
  1. http://static.businessofcinema.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Dil-Chahta-Hai-Cover-Pic.jpg
  2. Screenshot from AXE Dark Temptation commercial
  3. http://cdn-x.stockngo.com/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/a/x/axe-phoenix-deodorant-body-spray-4oz-1_2.jpg
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5 responses

  1. I think the Old Spice commercials tapped into the whole smell like your father (old age masculinity) I’m a huge old Spice fan because of how it reminds me of dad. I get where you’re coming from, but flipside why is there never a ladies deo ad where she’s all geeky and not traditionally good looking but a deo transforms her too. Pretty wide market gap I’d say.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Is that what Old Spice was?! I wonder if boys have that sort of association with their father i.e. smelling like him.

      Interesting flipside, do geeky/not traditionally good looking girls face the same barrier that guys like I did?

      Like

  2. Love it, I think its relatable for alot of boys. Can I know name of the girl who came to pick u?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Doesn’t it bother you that the series of commercials tend to objectify women?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jawwad,

      Apologies for the late reply, was travelling.

      Good question, at that age I didn’t see it as objectifying women. Plus, in these ads women aren’t necessarily objectified, it can be seen as objectifying men since the women just want them.

      The insight that is reflected can be seen as a result of objectifying women; but the ads don’t actually objectify them.

      I know the next argument would be about how the females are pretty and not ordinary looking etc. – again, reflection of an insight. I don’t believe the reflection is an encouragement of objectifying women either.

      Like

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