Axe is the main name for Unilever's hugely successful male toiletries brand, now marketed in more than 60 countries worldwide, with combined global retail sales of around €1.4bn. In just three markets - the UK, Ireland and Australia - Axe is still known under the alternative name Lynx. It is the world's best-selling male grooming product, and the #2 deodorant worldwide behind Unilever's lead brand in that sector, Rexona/Degree/Sure. Mary-Carmen "MC" Gasco-Buisson is VP, global brand within Unilever's personal care division, based out of London. Caroline Gregory is global brand director. The core product is a body spray designed to act as both a deodorant and a cologne. There are also deodorant sticks and roll-ons, aftershaves, body lotions, shower gels and even an exfoliating body scrub, and the brand has been extended into our segments such as haircare. Key to the ongoing success of Axe has been the strategy of launching new fragrance variants every year or so. During the 1990s, it established itself as one of the company's most high-profile brands, initially with eye-catching and prolific marketing which offered an often absurdly exaggerated view of the product's effect: even the nerdiest of guys could attract the world's most gorgeous women, suggested the ads, with just a squirt of Axe. By the end of the 2000s, however, this approach began to come under increasing pressure in the media for its sexism, especially given the female empowerment message adopted by Unilever stablemate Dove, which overtly criticised the portrayal of women in advertising as mere sex objects. Since 2010, commercials for Axe have adopted a noticeably more sensitive and less sex-obsessed approach, and have highlighted the problem of low male self-esteem. However, at the same time, some of the buzz that once attached to the brand (at least in part because of its advertising) has begun to fade. Though its biggest markets are the US, UK and Brazil, the Axe brand was in fact first introduced in France in 1983 as a partner to Unilever's existing female bodyspray Impulse. It was launched in the UK and Germany in 1985.
Capsule checked 25th October 2020
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Which agencies handle advertising for Axe / Lynx? Find out more from the Adbrands Account Assignments database
Who are the competitors of Axe / Lynx? The main rival products to Axe/Lynx are Procter & Gamble's Old Spice, Dove Men+Care, TAG and Gillette brands, and Adidas For Men by Coty. See Personal Care for other companies.
Historical snapshot information for Axe / Lynx
Adbrands Daily Update 27th Apr 2020: Classic Ads: "Billions" (2006). Times have changed since Bartle Bogle Hegarty first unleashed its "Spray More, Get More" concept for Unilever's men's body spray Lynx, or Axe as it's known in most of the rest of the world. The idea, of course, was that a burst of Lynx/Axe body spray could transform even the nerdiest of guys into a sex god, and this concept gave birth to a succession of often very funny ads over the course of a little over a decade . ...[Story continues here]..
Adbrands Daily Update 29th Jun 2018: Classic Ads: "Ideal Woman" (2000). 'The Lynx Effect' campaign – or 'The Axe Effect' as it became in most international markets - was born when Keith Weed, then head of Unilever's Elida Faberge deodorant and fragrance division, realised that the company's well-established men's body spray had ended up being "about as cool as Roger Moore in a safari suit". Clearly a new approach was required, and in 1995 he moved the account to Bartle Bogle Hegarty, arguably London's coolest agency who, among other triumphs, had a decade earlier transformed Levi's jeans into one of the UK's trendiest clothing brands. ...[Story continues here]..
Adbrands Weekly Update 23rd May 2017: Ads of the Week: "Is It OK for Guys...?" The latest campaign from 72andSunny Amsterdam for Unilever's Axe/Lynx digs even deeper into the self-esteem concept already mined so effectively by Unilever stablemate Dove. The agency's debut campaign for Axe acknowledged for the first time that the product isn't just for straight guys; it goes even further here. The basic message is of course, "be anything you want, just be yourself". That's highly commendable. Better still would be if the the ad didn't just ask "Is it ok...?" but also answered "Yes it is..."
Adbrands Weekly Update 14th Jan 2016: Ads of the Week: "Find Your Magic". The first big campaign for Unilever's Axe brand from 72andSunny Amsterdam takes the brand in a new direction, ditching the babe-magnet sexy stuff, and offering instead - well, perhaps a male equivalent to Dove's woman-empowering approach. (But without the vague aura of sadness that somehow always hangs over those campaigns). Guys, says this ad, just be yourself, make the most of what you're born with, but give it a final polish with a squirt of Axe. Oh yeah, and you don't have to be straight to use Axe either. That's definitely a new angle.
Adbrands Social Media 13th Jan 2015: Here's a nicely low-key new global campaign from Ponce Buenos Aires for Unilever's Axe/Lynx grooming range, still intent of ditching its slightly grubby past image as an instant babe magnet. Now you just stay cool. The ad breaks in Australia, where the product is known as Lynx.
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