Neha Kalra

Axe offers women a dark temptation

The campaign for the product is learnt to be one of the largest by Axe as a brand, and also one of Unilever’s biggest campaigns this year

Who can resist chocolate? Not women, definitely. And that is the premise on which Axe, Unilever’s market leader in deodorants for men, has introduced a chocolate fragrance in its range. Dark Temptation, the new deodorant, claims to have the same effect on women as chocolate: It turns them on.

Dark Temptation has already been launched in Europe and Argentina. India is the first Asian country where it has been introduced. Unilever is looking at taking it to other major Asian markets by the end of the year.

A nationwide campaign for the brand was launched in India with much fanfare. The campaign for the product is learnt to be one of the largest by Axe as a brand, and also one of Unilever’s biggest campaigns this year.

Axe offers women a dark temptation
Axe offers women a dark temptation
Click on the images to enlarge
The campaign was launched in three phases. The first – the seed phase – was done by Lowe Mumbai. Lowe Mumbai put together the teaser campaign for Dark Temptation on the basis of a research study conducted in November 2007 by Unilever together with Datosclaros, a company that designs and develops market and public opinion studies.

The study involved 3,571 women in 13 countries in the age group of 18-35 years. The aim was to test preferences and the relationship between women and chocolate. The teaser campaign highlighted the results of the survey, which implied that women found chocolate irresistible.

Ad industry stalwarts are reacting positively to the ad. Ashish Chakravarty, creative head, McCann Delhi, says, “The proposition/ storyline of Axe commercials have always been the same, whatever the variant: Use Axe and become a 'chick magnet'. So, the challenge each time is to tell the story in a fresh way. In all of their commercials, they have lived up to that. In this commercial, too, the manner of attracting women is quite unpredictable. And it has been executed well, so I quite like it.”

Nandu Narasimhan, executive creative director, Saatchi & Saatchi, North and Bangalore, praises the film: “From all that I have seen, Axe is a brand which stands apart in its communication. Set Wet, the brand, is compulsively portrayed as a 'sexy' brand. Axe, along with being sexy, also has a tinge of naughtiness to it. I think the ad would not have had that good an effect if a handsome hunk covered in chocolate had been used instead of the cute, toylike chocolate boy. I'm not sure about the awards this communication will win, but I'm sure it works. I personally really like this ad and watch it every time I come across it.”

Axe offers women a dark temptation
Click on the image to view the ad
Rensil D'Silva, executive creative director, Meridian, offers a similar view. “When I watched the film for the first time, it was great fun! I was intrigued. The brand essence has surfaced in the film, even though the logo appears at the end. The ad stands for the brand values and has a good rendition.”

In an exclusive chat with afaqs!, Priya Nair, category head, deodorants, Hindustan Unilever Ltd, says, “Though the insight that girls find chocolate irresistible is true, the imagery of chocolate per se in India has been more in the area of celebrating relationships or moments. That was not Axe territory. So, we needed to ‘Axeify’ the irresistible relationship that girls share with chocolate by bringing alive its aphrodisiacal side. The whole idea was to attract the attention of young guys with intriguing facts about the sensual relationship that girls share with chocolate.”

Axe offers women a dark temptation
Ashish Chakravarty
Axe offers women a dark temptation
Nandu Narasimhan
Axe offers women a dark temptation
Rensil D'Silva
An ad expert close to the developments says, “The concept of chocolate men is not yet very popular in India. The idea of the film is to make such men popular.”

The teaser campaign was followed by the launch phase, and the new television commercial for the brand was rolled out nationally. Once the fact that girls find chocolate irresistible had been established through the teaser campaign, the product was launched with the proposition that it “makes you as irresistible as chocolate to girls”. In the TVC, women can’t keep their hands off the chocolate man, licking him and biting and devouring him. The commercial was prepared by Lowe Argentina.

To help build awareness about Axe Dark Temptation and how it raises the desirability quotient of young men, the TVC will be supported by outdoor, point of sale and sampling. The outdoor and POS, which are on different lines from the TVC, have been designed by Lowe India. The outdoor is to go up soon in the top five metros, Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Kolkata, and two other cities, Hyderabad and Pune.

The last phase, an experiential one, is yet to happen, reveal sources.

As is well known, most Axe campaigns are adapted for the Indian market from the brand’s international campaigns. Lowe Argentina, and the US, London and Singapore offices of BBH are some of the agencies whose creatives have been picked up and adapted here.

Some of the popular Axe campaigns include the Ben Affleck film for Axe Clicker, which was released last year. It was made by BBH US. Lowe India made the radio spot for Axe Clicker. The Axe 99 and Cool Tool films were launched by Lowe India in 2006 and 2004, respectively.

Launched in 1999, Axe competes against Set Wet, the two year old male grooming brand. Sources claim that Axe has the maximum share in the market – 23.7 per cent; Set Wet's market share is 12 per cent.

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