Tag Archives: Strength

“Nothing Beats an Astronaut” Axe Apollo Commercial

This ad by Axe for their new body spray “Apollo” depicts a helpless woman drowning in the ocean. A handsome, muscular lifeguard rushes into the water to save her, wrestling and punching a shark in the process (gender roles at their finest). After bringing the woman to safety, the woman looks as if she is about to kiss the man who just rescued her – but then she runs off into the arms of an astronaut, a smaller, somewhat “geeky” looking man.
Gender stereotypes are at play all throughout this commercial, depicting both women and men in a flawed manner. The woman, of course, is depicted as beautiful but weak, which is contrasted with the strength of the man who saves her. The disparity is particularly evident in the shot from behind of the man carrying the limp, frail-looking body of the woman. The male lifeguard is also objectified, as he represents the “ideal” man – strong, courageous, attractive. The commercial perpetuates the typical feminine gender role of the “submissive woman” (de Beauvoir 36). The woman is taken care of by a man, a possession to be won and protected, while also suggesting that she cannot control her impulses of attraction (exemplified by her rushing over to the man in the astronaut suit).
De Beauvoir, Simone. “The Second Sex: Introduction.” Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives. McCain and Kim, eds. New York: Routledge, 2003.

Ad Critique: Apparently gender binary is “the gold.”


CoverGirl promotes the idea that a successful woman is both strong and beautiful. While strength is a trait stereotypically associated with what Simone de Beauvoir calls the “Subject,” that is to say men, here it is attributed to the “Other,” women (33). On the surface, this advertisement empowers women. However, beauty and strength are accredited to success, implying that both are necessary. Strength in this depiction is correlated alongside beauty, which is almost exclusively reserved for women. That the advertisement is for cosmetics makes it more unlikely that being strong here is meant in a gender-universal sense. With that in mind, CoverGirl helps divide a characteristic into male and female subparts, not only keeping women and men separated, but also reinforcing the gender binary system.

de Beauvoir, Simone. The Second Sex: Introduction. New York: Routledge, 2003.