The message behind the Axe commercials is quite simple: Use Axe body sprays and women will pursue you. Even though many ads online may claim to be selling magic pheromones that are “100% Guaranteed to Attract Sex Now,” it’s pretty safe to say that there is no such thing. If it were true eHarmony and Match. com would be filing for Chapter 11 right about now. Nevertheless, commercials targeting young adults, such as Clearasil and Axe, adamantly glorify these unrealistic fantasies. In 2008 Axe released a body spray labeled Dark Temptation, its slogan implying that it is “as irresistible as chocolate. Encased in a rather stout container, the prints on it are rather gloomy and reminiscent of the retro era. The commercial for it however, is quite jaunty and upbeat, which makes it unique from earlier commercials they’ve made. Instead of the usual adult movie reference, the Dark Temptation commercial was quite fantasy-esque. It reminded me of the Tin Man walking along the yellow brick road hoping to receive what he desperately needed. The commercial begins in a stark white bathroom. In front of a mirror is a young male in his late teens or early twenties holding a can in his right hand.
The only sounds heard are sprays emanating from this can. After a few quick spurts the screen fades out to the male placing the can onto a toilet top. As his hand moves away, all that’s seen is this dark brown can which seems to stand out amongst all the bleak items surrounding it. The contrast of colors makes it kind of hard to not notice the word “AXE”. After a quick silence a melodic beat starts to fade in and the view is returned to the mirror. But instead of the dull slim teenager we first started with, we see a jolly upbeat man made of chocolate.
Looking eerily similar to a Mr. Goodtime Easter Bunny chocolate, only at a much grander scale, and with a daunting smile that seems resistant to movement no matter how hard he tried. After a last look in the bathroom mirror, the scene is switched to an outdoor view of a downtown area; Sweet Touch of Love by Allen Toussaint blaring in rhythm with his every step. As he strolls down the street, he passes a young woman reading a book in front of a bookstore. The very moment he crosses her path she lifts her head as though distracted by a wonderful aroma.
Just as if he was in tune with all the women around, he breaks off a piece of his nose, and nonchalantly sprinkles his chocolate debris on a couple of vanilla cones held by two attractive females. The both of them quickly change their look of surprise into pure lust. The scene then changes to him being licked anxiously by two scantily clad women in a crowded movie theater. He doesn’t seem at all worried that he may be eaten alive but instead, delighted at the fact that he is being treated like a piece of meat. The scene again switches to a hospital room.
Our main character is seen handing a box to a bedridden blonde. As the screen scrolls closer, she is seen laughing incessantly. Apparently he has stuck his hand through the box, wriggling his fingers perhaps suggesting he could double as her gift as well as a companion. The scene then quickly changes to a woman taking a swift bite of his derriere causing him to–even with his static expression–somehow look shocked. He looks at her as though not knowing if he should be more shocked at the fact that she just took a bite of his rear, or the fact that she is looking so calmly and innocent after doing so.
The very last scene takes us to a gym with a horde of women rushing to the large window facing the main street, all lusting at our heroine. He is seen standing, swaggering a bit, probably basking in his newfound glory, and just about as he throws up an arm to acknowledge his entourage, his entire arm is ripped entirely off by a female passerby in a dark convertible. Perhaps in shock and dismay, but still unable to show his true emotion because of the cursed plastered smile. For years advertisers have been taking advantage of teenage insecurities.
Companies such as Oxy and Clearasil are continually convincing teenagers that clearing their skin would improve their social status. Seeing how well the acne parade was doing, another market emerged targeting yet another teenage angst–sweat. Tag and Axe body sprays have taken a similar selling approach, telling teenage boys that using the products will make them irresistible to the opposite sex. It is said that sex sells, which is still very true today. Hardly ever is there an ad without a beautiful female half naked wanting you to buy a product.
But now that advertisers are melding both sex and humor, it makes it rather hard to forget their ads. As with the ad described above and similar commercials, it’s not hard to see that what they are portraying is over-the-top and very exaggerated. Anyone watching can guess that such a thing will never happen, but the desire behind the ads is really what guys want, which is to get the girl. Coming from a female’s prospective, I can’t say if the ads actually convince me that buying Axe’s Dark Temptation will make me irresistible to the opposite sex.
But I can honestly say that the ad has made me think of picking up a bottle the next time I am at the store, not because of what it claims to do, but because I am curious to know if it really smells like chocolate. I would say that this commercial did its job well because it appeals to both sexes. Men wouldn’t mind becoming irresistible to women, and women are known to love chocolate. As stated on their website about the Chocolate Man: “Women LOVE him. Guys want to be him. ” I guess it could be true.