Online Exclusive: Interactive News

AXE'S LATEST SEX AD IS A DIGITAL GAME

WildTangent Creates Console-Like 'Pick Up Girls' Game

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Unilever is rolling out a free online "seduction skills" digital game that is to be the centerpiece of the campaign to introduce Axe's new scent, Unlimited, this summer.
This is one of the 100 3-D virtual women that young gamers can chase through seven different cities in the new Axe game.
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The game, announced at the E3 Gaming Expo in Los Angeles this week, is a console-quality game aimed at Axe's main target, men 17 to 24. It will be available June 20.

Deodorant category
The game -- reaching out to young men online, where they spend much of their media time -- is in keeping with Axe's overall racy commercial messages featuring large-breasted, seductively clad women. Unilever's share of the doedorant market in the first quarter was up 2.6 percentage points overall. And the male deodorant/body spray category is heating up, with Procter & Gamble Co.'s Gillette Co. having pushed the body spray Tag into the market. As part of the launch, it is offering teenage boys the chance to bid on eBay for a date with Carmen Electra.

The new Axe Mojo Master is a 3-D virtual fantasy game in which the gamer proceeds through a playbook of pick-up moves while moving through a field of 100 women in virtual venues from New York to Los Angeles, explained Dave Madden, executive vice president of sales and marketing at online game company WildTanget, which developed the game. If the player impresses a woman, her "attraction meter" measures a higher score.

The female characters have artificial intelligence and react to the gamer in different ways. The user is armed with Axe's deodorant body spray, shower gel, deodorant stick and invisible solid, infused with the new Unlimited scent. Each time he uses a product it boosts his mojo. The player can continue until he has conquered all 100 women and can ascend to the level of "playa." The idea is if the gamer is a mojo master, he's expert enough to use the fragrance.

$1 million plus
Axe has spent seven figures on the game to be sure it is high-quality and long-lasting, said David Rubin, senior brand development manager for Axe. "Axe has done games before, but this a console-quality game that you can play for hours on end." The brand chose a game as a hub for the fragrance debut because "we recognize that our target is doing other things than watching TV and reading magazines," he added. "He consumes all kinds of media [so] there's lots of places to get him."

Print and online promotions, from agencies Conductor and Vox, will support the game, driving awareness and traffic to the site, Mojomastergame.com. TV advertising by Bartle Bogle Hegarty, New York, does not directly support the game but will mention it, Mr. Rubin said. The marketing budget is about the same as it was for Touch, last year's new fragrance.

According to TNS Media Intelligence, Unilever spent $5 million last year on online advertising for Axe, which included support for the new scent and a new product range, Axe antiperspirant.

Seduction test crash dummies
Conductor also produced and coordinated pre-release buzz campaigns for Mojo Master. The agency created an online video and accompanying blog of two young men, Gareth and Evan, who are traveling the nation trying out the game's mojo moves in real life. "They are our seduction crash-test dummies," said Tom Cotton, president of Conductor.

What do the female characters in the game look like? "The women are absolutely stunning," Mr. Madden boasted.

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