A new initiative from Axe and 72andSunny sets out to dismantle the stereotypes that prevent guys from just being themselves -- even if they're virgins, interested in wearing makeup or curious about experimenting with other dudes.
The "Find Your Magic Initiative" includes a spot titled "Is it OK for guys to?" which asks that question as it pertains to topics including same-sex relationships, depression, fear, spooning, selfies and more. The ad implies that the answer is yes, to all of the above. Real search questions, from real guys, inspired the film.
The initiative builds off the "Find Your Magic" campaign that debuted in January of last year, which set out to promote a broader, more inclusive portrait of masculinity with quick-cut scenes of young men from all walks of life: brainiacs, dancers, high-heels wearers, the wheelchair-bound and more.
In asking "Is it OK for guys to?" Axe is hoping to battle what global brand VP Rik Strubel calls "toxic masculinity."
The Unilever brand doesn't have the answers literally just yet, but is developing content it hopes ultimately will rise to the top of search results when guys ask, said Carlo Cavallone, executive creative director of 72andSunny. Of course, some would accuse Axe of fostering the toxicity with years of girl-chases-guy humor. But Strubel says surveys find brand perception scores are rising amid Axe's evolved "Find Your Magic" view of masculinity the past year, and so are sales.
As part of the new effort, Axe will also be partnering with influencers to talk about topics featured in the brand film. It also teamed with various non-profits to drive awareness and research how masculine stereotypes prevent guys from becoming their most "authentic selves" and is working with anti-bullying organization "Ditch the Label" to create a platform that supports guys struggling with "toxic masculinity" according to a brand statement.