Axe has long been helping men get, um, ahead in the mating game. The Axe Effect is well established as the moment when a young man douses himself in scenty product and women swoon, appear in hordes, abandon responsibility, or otherwise lose their wits. Things might also explode.
While its marketing is infamous, the latest from Axe leverages the face-to-face time its associates have while doing their work, turning business encounters into yet another moment in which Axe can be the facilitator of overwhelming attraction. How? By enhancing each associate’s business card with their own pheromones. (Read: drops of their sweat. Pheromones are "presumed.")
Wanting—needing—to get the dirt on this most unusual idea, we consulted Sub Nijjar, partner and president of Union, the Toronto-based agency behind this, inspiring (perspiring?) business innovation.
Co.Create: So, where exactly did this idea for a pheromone-laced business card come from?
Sub Nijjar: The idea is really just a natural result of our agency’s drive to extend the Axe experience to every touch point for the brand. An opportunity that is often overlooked is business cards. It’s a chance to exchange information and create a connection between people, but most companies limit themselves to phone number and email address. We saw an opportunity to embed into the cards themselves the very promise and playful nature of Axe when it comes to the mating game.
What sort of science needed to be consulted to pull this off? How were they made?
There were several stages to accomplishing this. It wasn't an exact scientific process but we created a way to infuse the cards with actual pheromones, presumably. First we collected samples of each employee’s sweat when they were extremely active and exuding a lot of everything, including pheromones, presumably. Then we needed a method of ensuring that anything we were going to apply to the cards wasn’t going to become harmful or noxious over time. Finally it was coming up with a method of distilling what we had collected into something we could apply to the cards.
Do they work? How powerful are our pheromones, really?
I’ll be perfectly honest, the biology of pheromones—particularly in humans—is still quite mysterious. So it’s hard for us to say how it works or even the extent to which they work. They’re certainly not as powerful as male goat pheromones, which can cause female goats to ovulate on the spot. But there is preliminary evidence that suggest that pheromones have an effect on human attraction.
At the very, very least, it’s the power of suggestion. Knowing you have a card infused with your pheromones or knowing that you’ve received one is going to plant the seed of attraction in your mind. And where does attraction blossom better than in your mind?
Have there been any unintended (or intended!) effects?
We haven’t heard of anything too extreme, but maybe people just aren’t kissing and telling.