How Axe's latest ad is shattering stereotypes

Axe's #Abteribari campaign aims to deconstruct outdated views on masculinity

e4m by Nafisa Shaheen
Updated: Jul 3, 2019 8:46 AM

With #Abteribari, Axe has ditched its usual seduction game routine ads and come up with a campaign on redefining masculinity. The campaign stars Ayushmann Khurrana in the promotional video and ropes in YouTube sensation Beyounick along with footballer Sunil Chettri, ‘Made In Heaven’ actor Shashank Arora and dancer Dharmesh Yelande to address the stereotypes around being a man.

Conceptualised by Mindshare and Arre, the “AXE – Make Your Own Rules” video calls men to listen to their hearts and not worry about what people think. The lyrics by Naezy, “Kar faisley khud ke jari, ab teri bari” inspire them to break stereotypes.

Axe has always attracted eyeballs for its portrayal of women in its ads. The earlier advertisements showing falling angels or how spraying the deo can get the girl, have often invited criticism. But now, the Hindustan Unilever brand has done away with the old concept and changed its overall outlook and perspective.

Sharan Saikumar, Creative Director at Arré, told exchange4media, “Brands are taking progressive and responsible stands today not just because they should, but because they want to be part of conversations that the youth is having today. We’ve seen a trend of ‘conscious communication’ with several brands (be it gender consciousness, body-image consciousness, or community consciousness) and that’s a good thing.”

“It reflects the changing values of a generation. Due to our editorial thought leadership within this generation, we’ve been in a position to map these values first-hand, which is why we’ve been working with not just with Axe but also several new-age digital and traditional FMCG brands to create content that is always relevant and always aware,” she added.

This is the first time Axe has come to take a stand for the type of product it manufactures and for its target audience. This has a dual benefit. First, it will help Axe stay clear of ads with sexist content and second, it will help it expand its consumer reach and target audience.

Brand expert, Harish Bijoor supported this argument, “Brands need to belong. Brands are hungry for consumer ownership. Brands need to therefore take stances. If a brand caters to men, it should be owned by men in their minds. Therefore, brands take stances. Axe does just that with its new campaign,” he said.

Brand consultant Kiran Khalap noted another important side of the brand’s strategy. “I think Axe painted itself into a corner by appropriating a uni-dimensional category benefit of male-female attraction, even though it was all done with great wit and panache,” he said.

“Some of the old Axe TVCs are classics as the brand has been very creative in terms of ads. The video does a decent job for the brand but is not a novice idea. Nevertheless, it is doing good for the brand, given that the category and brand code of seduction has been taken away by other brands. So, moving to a point of view on masculinity is fine. This new stance helps Axe escape the ‘corner’ and expand its meaning to the new individualism that Indians are adopting: the old identity defined by relationships and sacrifice for family has more or less been destroyed by the millennials and surprisingly, also adopted by the older generation.”



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