Unilever axes outdated depictions of masculinity

Lauren Joyce on May 22, 2017

Axe (or Lynx in Australia) have long appealed to young men with stereotypical depictions of alpha males and sexualised females – just look at what a google image search shows up – but in their latest work they have shifted focus to challenge young men & women to rethink what masculinity means. This is a very ‘of the moment’ strategy tapping into the cultural emergence of gender non-identification and increased awareness of diversity.

Clearly the treatment of the work is designed to appeal to young people – it feels a bit instagram-filtery – but I also think that Unilever have acknowledged that with mums making 97% of grocery related purchase decisions* and the majority of personal care purchases for their families they need to reframe their comms if they are to appeal to the desire for parents to raise good men.

The Axe “Is it ok for guys….” work reminds me of Unilever stablemate Dove’s “What is you daughter searching for?” work.


It has appeal with young people but an important message for parents, the purchase decision makers. Personally, I wonder how long it will take for Axe to shake the old image and the sexist manifestations of the brand that live forever on the internet but, it is certainly a bold move in the right direction.

This approach is a lesson in developing creative that has appeal across different audiences because the end user of the product is not always the one making the purchase decision.

* SOURCE: MWN Audience Research, Oct/Nov 2016 & AdAge Whitepaper:The Rise of the Real Mom

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