Find Your Magic (and Man Bun): AXE Encourages Men to Be Themselves


Axe Find Your Magic

In a major U-turn, Axe (known as Lynx in the UK) is dropping its bro-tastic “The AXE Effect” campaign and leveraging sister brand Dove’s “Real Women” success by injecting honesty and sensitivity into its new global brand campaign, “AXE—Find Your Magic.”

“Who needs a six pack when you have your own thing? No must-have, must-be, fashion norms or body standards,” reads the copy. “The most attractive man you can be is yourself. So find what makes you, you. Then work on it.”

AXE’s long-term strategy that accounted for the brand’s success to date was ripe for a change. “[Axe] wanted to become the number one male grooming brand in the world, in a category they recognised was changing dramatically from when they’d first entered,” explained Stephanie Feeny, 72&Sunny Amsterdam’s head of strategy and AXE creative agency, to The Drum.

“We’re living in an era of unprecedented freedom and acceptance—and yet what we’ve seen is that a lot of men still feel huge pressure to look and behave a certain way in order to be seen as attractive,” added Fernando Desouches, global Axe brand director.

So the brand decided to blow up that image with the campaign that kicks off on Monday, January 18th, in the US before rolling out to the UK (as Lynx) in March.

As part of the US launch, AXE and musician John Legend are promoting the AXE Collective platform to highlight musicians and filmmakers and help them showcase their magic.

Rik Strubel, global vice president of the Lynx and Axe brands, said it’s the biggest repositioning of the Unilever-owned brand in two decades. “We have been catering to teenage guys and we are now talking to his older brother, who is in university.”

As part of its research into the new positioning, AXE surveyed 3,500 men in 10 UK markets and found that just 5 percent indicated that they felt like an attractive man. Strubel explained that Axe/Lynx’s marketing activity was aimed at empowering men.

“The pressure to conform has gone up. Guys have lost their confidence to express themselves,” he said. “The moment you show individuality then people get bullied and this is the big issue.”

“We’re still AXE, and we still want to have some fun,” says 72andSunny Amsterdam managing director Nic Owen about the change in strategy. “We’re still around attraction as well, it’s just actually you can be more attractive by not following a stereotype and attraction is beyond a spray-and-get-laid advertising conceit, it’s about building bigger relationships with women or men.”

Case in point: As part of its content strategy supporting the global rollout, a series of “Instagroom” video tutorials on YouTube are to help the brand “move to a continuous beat of communication” with its target audience in the US, where men apparently could use a hand to tackle such thorny sartorial challenges as the man bun.