AXE: Capturing the zeitgeist of new masculinity

May 27, 2018 | Benoit Beaufils

Business Challenge
Business was relatively good on sprays, but not good on anything else, because the brand mostly appealed to very young teens. The “guy gets the girls” story was still making the brand famous, but it was not helping the business grow anymore.


Reframed as a Human Challenge
The challenge was masculinity is changing. Sex is easier to access, guy/girl relationships have changed. Conjuring the fear to talk to girls, the thing that made Axe famous, is still relevant at 13 – not anymore at 23. If you’re the biggest male grooming brand in the world, you drive guys if you offer an image of masculinity that really helps them, one they actually want to borrow from.

But what image of masculinity then? That’s what we set out to dive into.


Our AHA moment
Talking to guys, psychologists, sociologists, with the Axe team, we realized one hard thing: there is no definition of masculinity anymore. Male norms have exploded, there’s a lot about what is wrong as a guy, but what is right?  For 20-something guys who are forging their identities as men, this can often be scary. Here’s the magic, though: if you can deal with it, that absence of norms is the biggest opportunity. You get to be who you want. You get to find your own way. In that freedom lies the hope, the point of view Axe can offer to guys, and society. And the source of business – because to craft that guy you want to be, you need grooming. With that truth, Axe opened a new strategic avenue that changed everything.


What makes us proud
“We helped Axe design a massive strategic turnaround that propels their business today.  3 years before Harvey Weinstein hit the news, we helped AXE to move from a position that contributed to a toxic, girl-catching masculinity, to being a contributor to positive and diverse ways to be a man. Being the biggest male grooming brand in the world, Axe impact, and now its impact is positive.”