Anyone who’s ever tried to sell anything to the 18-25 demographic would kill to have a successful viral video about their product.
Rather than paying a television or radio station to run your commercial, release a video online and it will spread on its own, if it’s good enough. Companies are dedicated to boosting the popularity of online videos. Remarkable viral advertising is quite rare, but recently, it has resurfaced in ads for the Axe Detailer.
In a three-minute segment that could be shown in classrooms to define “innuendo,” Axe repeatedly demonstrates that the Detailer can “clean your balls” while never once using it on a person. This double entendre is beaten into the ground over the course of the video.
One actress fondles a pair of golf balls in a way that makes me feel funny inside; there is a “big ball-sack” containing a dozen soccer balls held by a black gentleman and the rather lewd elderly woman in the front row providing even more comedy. Really, watch it and try to believe they are actually talking about sports.
Even if you are virginal of mind, you could still figure out the barely-hidden message when you realize that although one of the female hosts is supposedly a tennis player, there is no talk about any balls belonging to women. Women only play with balls belonging to other men. It would be sexist if it wasn’t logical.
Balls aside, the real cleverness is that Axe is continuing to market what used to be termed “beauty products” to straight men, who are quite hard to sell that sort of thing to. Of course, to reach the straight men, its advertising repeatedly implies that using the product will make women want to have sex with you immediately.
Most companies that market toward men use this strategy, but few do it as overtly as Axe. Whether it turns you into chocolate or just emits a mysterious force, women apparently go wild the instant the scent of Axe hits them. Sex sells. This is hardly news.
Since I can’t very well complain about a product without trying it myself, I decided to go out and purchase a Detailer of my own. I figured that $3.99 wasn’t too much to spend, even if it ended up doing nothing but make me smell vaguely like a high school boy.
Although its advertisement is ingenious, its design is less than miraculous. As I look at the Detailer itself, it is obvious that Axe has taken a basic mesh sponge and used technology popularized by the “two-sided sponge” concept to affix it to another surface with a rougher consistency, which is similar to that of a loofah. It’s a simple concept, but its versatility makes it quite a space-saver.
My expectations were pretty high, as the commercial showed the Detailer taking caked-on mud off of, well, balls. I’m not really sure who would get mud on their (non-sports) balls, so I tried it anyway. However, as I mentioned, the Detailer itself is nothing but a combination of existing bath products, so I didn’t expect penile enhancement or anything (although such a product is probably being developed in the Axe laboratories right now).
The actual result was a bit disappointing, as my balls did not actually look “sparkly and new” as advertised. They did look a tiny bit cleaner than normal, I suppose. But apart from my balls, the rest of my body seems to have benefited from the exfoliation that came with rubbing my body with something rougher than my hands. Getting rid of some of that old skin seems to have made everything slightly smoother. The effect was probably about the same as if I’d used a regular “loofah,” though.
In conclusion, while the Axe Detailer isn’t exactly anything new, it is an efficient combination of two existing bath products. In addition, I wholeheartedly support any ad campaign that can convince people to be even a little bit cleaner.
The Detailer might even be able to make the world smell better. Unless you use Axe body washes with it. Then the world’s going to hell.