The “Axe effect” – or the “Unilever hypocrisy”?

Men buy Axe deodorant. Why? Bom Chicka Wah Wah – simply because Unilever wants them to. Axe deodorant has become very well known due to the famous TV commercials. The product is allegedly something that turns everybody into a woman magnet. On the other side, women buy Dove products. Why? Same here, only the role of the women is quite different. Women are supposed to feel more comfortable and confident by using Dove products. The only thing that these brands have in common is the parent company Unilever and the utterly cunning advertising strategy. Apart from that, none of the values conveyed by each of these actually match.

Dove Campaign

In the recent years, the “Axe effect” has become highly famous. Just use it, and half naked women will literally hunt you. You will be the most seductive and irresistible man on earth.  That is the main idea behind the advertising campaign. On the other side, there is Dove. Dove has become the symbol for natural beauty, women´s self-esteem. At first sight, the potential consumer perceives Dove as something that supports women no matter how far away they might be from the generally accepted beauty ideal. But basically, the advertisers show women, who seem to have flawless skin and – although more weight than size zero models – look indeed beautiful. So how is that supposed to improve women´s self-esteem?

Maybe what Unilever tries to tell us is: “Women, use Dove and you will have enough self-esteem in order to feel the necessity to run after an Axe-consumer in a bikini”. At least that is what I get out of the story. But in the end, it should only be highlighted what Unilever´s actual intent is: nothing but to increase sales. Buying either one of the abovementioned brands will not change anything for the customer as it is claimed by the producer. But there is something that women might do in order to fit in the concept of an Axe commercial, namely to buy “Slim Fast”, which is – surprise surprise – another Unilever brand! By the way, what I am trying to do is not scapegoating Unilever, but to make ourselves aware of what we actually spend our money on when buying several products. The consumer does not only pay for the product, but also for the marketing machinery behind it.