The formerly ultra-horny young-men's grooming brand Axe began trying something different in a campaign from 72andSunny Amsterdam begun the month before Super Bowl 50: encouraging its target consumers to find their magic, whatever that may be, and not to worry about sixpacks, or possibly even gender roles.
Axe's "Make Love Not War" in the 2014 game was also more romantic than the brand's broader oeuvre, which more often seemed like the creative director was "pickup artist" Mystery (originator of the concept "negging"). But this goes further, and is more relatable to boot.
"We want to make it clear it doesn't matter how you define masculinity, which is very different than some of the storytelling we've done in the past," said Matthew McCarthy, senior director of Axe and men's grooming at Unilever.
There's no single definition of masculinity, said Carlo Cavallone, executive creative director of 72andSunny Amsterdam. "We wanted to make it as inclusive as possible. We wanted to give to guys a sense of confidence and liberate them from stereotypical bullshit about what it means to be a man."
The spot that Super Bowl viewers saw was actually a 30-second version of a 60-second ad already in circulation, and even though it trims the guy-guy eye-lock of the longer original, it keeps the men dancing in heels. It's an interesting shift toward the kind of affirmation that sibling Unilever brand Dove has tried to bring women over the years (or even Dove Men with "Real Strength" in the 2015 game), and likely played better with millennials' reputedly more enlightened view on things. It's also more likely to stand out than another execution in the prior Axe vein.
Director: François Rousselet. Production company: Division.
Executive creative director/writers: Carlo Cavallone, Stuart Harkness. Creative directors/writers: Laura Visco, Emiliano Trierveiler. Managing director: Nic Owen. Head of design: Richard Harrington. Senior designer: Mario Guay. Group brand director: Rob Conibear. Brand director: Justin Martin. Senior business affairs manager: Madelon Pol. Business affairs manager: Nickie Stevens. Director of strategy: Stephanie Feeney. Strategy director: Danny Feeney. Strategist: Paul Chauvin. Director of film Production: Stephanie Oakley. Executive Producer: Peter Montgomery. Production coordinator: Sanne Van Hattum.
VFX: Mathematic. Telecine: Framestore. Editorial: Final Cut. Editor: Amanda James.
QUARTER AIRED: Q4