Ad: Axe & Stereotypes

Now, of course criticizing men’s product commercials is a feministic equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel. Nonetheless, a recent commercial for Axe hair styling products (Axe men’s products in general) caught my eye as especially provocative. Notoriously men’s products such as Axe and Old Spice have relied on one common mantra to sell their goods. The underlying message for the majority of ads reads simply: if you buy this product, women will like you. This then opens an cornucopia of gender stereotypes to manipulate around this simple objective. While at first it is one sort of “women” categorization that average Axe user wishes to attract. And it goes without saying she may have been on the cover of Sport’s Illustrated swimsuit edition. However, this recent ad struct me as interesting because Axe transcends your typical gender stereotype. Here we have an athletic (mind you, attractive) woman who forgoes winning her race to smell the rather nerdy looking guy who managing the start gun. In a sense the message here reads, wear Axe if you aren’t a manly man… and you may indeed dominate another kind of woman. Still the same gender constructions, different approach.

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