Axe built its brand on male stereotypes. Now they're trying to undo the damage.


The brand’s ‘Is it OK for guys…’ ad contains an important core message.

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Axe’s latest ad is a major rebuke of everything they’ve built their brand on — and it’s totally awesome.

The ad titled “Is it OK for guys…” encourages its audience to break free of macho stereotypes and rethink masculinity, a continuation of its 2016 “Find Your Magic” campaign.

GIF from Axe/YouTube.

It’s a neat, much-needed departure from some of the old masculinity tropes the brand used to promote.

Tropes like the idea that if you cover yourself in body spray, you’ll become irresistible to hordes of scantily-clad women.

“Spray more, get more.” GIF from Axe/YouTube.

Or promoting the concept that the existence of women is a danger to mankind (or at least a danger to the type of manly-men-who-can’t-focus-in-the-presence-of-an-attractive-woman-and-totally-wear-Axe).

“Black chill.” GIF from Axe/YouTube.

There’s an important message at the latest ad’s core about what it means to be “a real man.”

Much of the backlash to Axe’s older ads stemmed from arguments over whether the campaigns demeaned women — but the attitudes in those ads actually hurt men in real ways.

First, let’s address the obvious: Telling boys not to cry, glorifying and enforcing macho stereotypes on men is bad for their mental and physical health.

Compared to women, men are more likely to drink in excess, less likely to be diagnosed with depression (but more likely to die from suicide), and more likely to die at an earlier age.  

It’s not outrageous to think the need to conform to stereotypes contributes to these tragic outcomes. These facts are disheartening and show we all need to do more to support men. That’s what makes Axe’s move so cool. They’re setting a new standard for how we should treat men: as emotionally-layered people with all different — and valid — expressions of masculinity.

Whether or not the ad makes you want to go out and buy a can of Axe (if you do, please, please use it in moderation — I beg of you), it’s definitely worth sharing its message.

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