Can a body spray be the key to world peace? It may sound unlikely, but that’s what Axe is suggesting with its Super Bowl ad touting its new fragrance, Peace, which will roll out along the brand’s entire product line. The 60-second spot, which was released today, Axe thankfully trades the buxom babes with minimal wardrobing that are common to its advertising, for something bordering on social commentary.
A surprised reaction is not uncalled for here. Precisely no one would have put any money on an advertising equation that results in Axe + Super Bowl = world peace. But then, few would have predicted that Axe would be sending its users on a space voyage, but the brand has been nothing if not ambitious lately.
The first moments of "Make Love, Not War" from agency BBH London and director Rupert Sanders, draw on iconic images of the world’s most significant conflicts: tanks rolling through a decimated town in World War II; choppers coasting over verdant battle grounds in Vietnam; a middle-eastern leader with a detonator; a Korean dictator addressing his compliant populace. Just when you think that all hell will break loose (which is about the exact moment you start thinking, is it terrible that Axe is appropriating such powerful, solemn imagery?), the tables turn. As the tank stops rolling, a handsome fellow pops out to meet his ladylove. And so goes the scene with each of the other seeming villains. Even egomaniacal dictators have a soft spot for their girl. #KissForPeace says the spot.
AXE explains this unexpected turn as a response to its socially conscious consumer base. In a release about the new fragrance, Matthew McCarthy, Senior Director, Axe & Men's Grooming for Unilever says, "Young people care deeply about the future. AXE is tapping into this to start a conversation, inspire people to unite globally, and raise awareness about the power of peace in a way only AXE can do—with a #KissForPeace." In a world filled with conflict, he says, the most powerful weapon is love. And peaceful deodorant.
In addition to the Super Bowl spot, Axe is inviting people to take a photo of a kiss, tag it with #KissForPeace, and share it online. These photos will be displayed on a Times Square Billboard from Jan. 27-Feb. 9 and on AXEPeace.com starting on Feb. 10.
Going all-in on its bid to be a peace enabler, Axe is also teaming up with Peace One Day, an international non-profit that drives awareness of world peace. The personal care brand will help raise awareness on behalf of Peace Day (Sept. 21) through its social networks, presence at major lifestyle events, and its advertising.
Where our forebears had tie-dye, protest songs and unkempt hair in their "make love not, war arsenal", it seems that today’s young men need merely reach for a can of scent-y spray.
Let us know your thoughts-refreshing zag or inappropriate evocation of dark human moments?—in the comments below.