It's the end of an era: Unilever's Axe has finally moved on from its "babe-magnet" advertising message and launched a global spot that's not about attracting women at all.
The brand -- known for its sexy, humorous ads from BBH featuring angels, firefighters and more -- is instead calling on men to "find your magic" with the ad, by 72andSunny Amsterdam. Unilever moved its global account to 72andSunny a year ago.
The spot is a whirlwind series of portraits of many different types of masculinity and suggests that "finding magic" can be through anything from growing a bushy beard to dancing in high heels. It's a much more inclusive approach, with other vignettes including a disabled man on a dance floor at his wedding, a pizza maker, a guy doing equations on a blackboard, and more.
The ad even opens with a nod to Axe's past, with a skinny, beak-nosed boy and his girlfriend (who's driving the car) looking at a poster of a smoldering hunk with a bare torso as the voiceover asks: "Who needs a six pack when you got the nose?" It was directed by FranÃ§ois Rousselet of Division.
Unilever said in a statement that in the campaign, for its new grooming range, it wants to shake off "outdated views of masculinity." According to Matthew McCarthy, senior director, Axe & Men's Grooming for Unilever, "Masculinity today is going through seismic changes. More than ever, guys are rejecting rigid male stereotypes. We've been part of guys' lives for decades, and Axe champions real guys and the unique traits that make them attractive to the world around them."
72andSunny Amsterdam Executive Creative Director Carlo Cavallone added, "With Find Your Magic we're out to liberate guys from pressure and bullshit, and empower them to be the most attractive men they can be -- themselves."
While it was certainly time to move on from the laddish message of Axe in the past -- after all, men's magazines such as FHM that have championed the same humor have now closed -- the new ad seems to lack the distinctive personality of some of Axe and BBH's greatest hits. The brand will have to work hard to retain it in this more enlightened era.
Read more about the new campaign on Adage.com.