Axe is a Guy’s Guy Brand, Leaving out Everything in Between

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Axe got it.  At least with men ages 16 to 25.  The brand strategy for its deodorant, shower gel and hair products is simple: Axe gets you the girls.   

The company has been using sex and innuendo to sell product since its U.S. launch in 2003.  Former “My Name is Earl” star Jamie Pressley has now joined the Axe roster.  The Emmy winning actress is appearing in a series of suggestive “Clean your balls” ads, a parody of a home shopping network infomercial where Pressley plays fictional tennis player Monica Blake showing how an all made audience can clean their balls using the Axe Detailer.  Guys in the audience hold up footballs, golf balls, and one even asks if the Axe Detailer can clean his soccer ball sack.  It gets much racier after that.

It’s hard to argue the cleverness of the ads, which have gone viral on the Internet with millions of users already downloading the clips. Even though it may be difficult to qualify those downloading the ads, it’s a good bet they fall into the brand’s demographic target.

Aside from the brand’s growing popularity in the U.S., Axe is global. It originated 27 years ago in France and is now sold in more than 60 countries. Brand success is turning financial rewards for Unilever, Axe’s parent. Earnings were up 38% in the most recent quarter over last year and the company’s U.S. operations grew two percent, despite a sluggish American market.

The men’s grooming market is booming, reaching an estimated $84 billion by 2014. With its presence on the Internet, Axe is poised to grow its brand globally, further increasing its market share in this category. However, its brand strategy may have some flaws, such as not targeting the gay male consumer, a highly sought after demographic more likely to purchase men’s grooming products.

But that’s changing given the rise of the metro sexual. Axe is in a good place right now. It must however use its brand awareness to introduce products or line extensions that cater to a broader male segment. Otherwise, Axe will continue to generate great video content, which may not always translate into sales.

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