A little bit of sadness earlier this week in the Washington Post: It seems that the obnoxious advertising techniques of Axe -- a line of body sprays, deodorants and body washes for men -- have made quite an impression on young boys. Maybe you've seen the ads for the body wash in which an apartment building full of women cling, like especially enthused strippers, to pipes leading from an Axe user's shower. Or the new campaign that advises Axe users -- in a clear show of the company's altruistic underpinnings -- on how to absolve themselves of the questionable hook-ups that result from their newfound irresistibility. But one thing is clear: Young boys are taking note.
I didn't know whether to laugh wildly or tend to that sudden ulcerous pain in my stomach when confronted with the photo of an earnest 13-year-old boy holding a painting of the most significant things in his life, which features a bottle of Axe body spray. But why wouldn't something that promises instant ladies-man status be paramount in a teenage boy's life? The Web site, for instance, has a helpful diagram that shows a man spraying Axe on his chest, under his arms and then, voilà, he is at once sandwiched between two adoring ladies. The site also has a video that shows female drill instructors ordering men to scale a climbing wall made of bikini-clad breasts and derrières to prepare for spring break, along with some fun facts: "During Spring Break there is an 80% increase in groin injuries due to lack of conditioning" and "28% of all males at Spring Break are arrested pantless." (So wildly clever, it almost belongs in the pages of Maxim magazine.)
The teen and "tween" market may be increasingly hip and discerning, but there's no competing with hormones: "I was watching the commercial, and there was this guy and he was mobbed by a bunch of girls, and I thought, 'Wow, that's tight!'" Asean Townsend, 12, told the Post. "So I went to CVS and bought it." The article also mentions Klima Arrola, an eighth-grader who was convinced at age 11 to start wearing Axe after he saw a commercial showing an attractive, Axe-wearing man "mobbed by a bunch of even better-looking women."
But, true to anxiety-ridden romantic pursuits at that age, it's usually the wrong messages that are picked up on and done in excess: "Someone by my locker uses [Axe], but he uses so much that you can taste it in your mouth," Allison Testamark, 14, told the Post in disgust.