Axe, in collaboration with the non-profit organization Promundo, successfully implemented a campaign that leveraged insights derived from data analysis to create emotional resonance in the #IsItOkForGuys campaign. This Axe campaign garnered significant attention from consumers, amassing 1.3 billion views within its first two weeks.
Today, young men find themselves in a world filled with stereotypes and limitations. Over 70% of them face expectations about how a "real man" should behave. Societal pressure makes them constantly question whether they are "man enough" and drives them to conform to these expectations. This pressure contributes to issues such as bullying, depression, and suicide among men, which are becoming increasingly prevalent.
Axe, known for its controversial advertising campaigns targeting young men, encouraged them to use its grooming products to attract women. Consequently, Axe had long been associated with perpetuating traditional gender stereotypes, primarily focusing on the "battle of seduction."
Axe aimed to reposition its brand and enhance its customers' emotional connection to the brand.
Axe partnered with the non-profit organization Promundo and conducted a survey with the target audience, revealing that 72% of young men felt pressured to conform to the idea of being a "real man." They also analyzed Google search data, which showed that young men frequently searched for questions like "Is it okay for guys to do yoga?" or "Is it okay for a man to earn less than his girlfriend?" These queries confirmed that young men were constantly grappling with societal pressures and stereotypes.
Shifting the focus from advertising centered around gender-based seduction to addressing societal issues concerning men's pressures, Axe emphasized that there are multiple ways to define "masculinity." They encouraged men to break free from outdated societal stereotypes and defined what it means to be a "real man" in their own terms.
Utilizing videos to pose questions on various topics that young men commonly face, such as body shaming, same-sex relationships, and psychological challenges, Axe aimed to redefine masculinity and utilized social media to spread its brand message while strengthening its emotional connection with the target audience.
"Is it okay for guys…?"
Answering the question "Is it okay for guys...?" allowed Axe to spread its mission of breaking societal stereotypes, encouraging men to be more open, and expressing the pressures of being a "real man." This message, coupled with the voices of influencers, emphasized that there are no limits or standards for what defines a real man.
The video began by highlighting that 72% of young men felt pressured to conform to the notion of being a "real man." Axe then presented questions that started with "Is it okay for guys...?" These questions covered various everyday topics, including not liking sports, preferring long hair, and dealing with common psychological issues. Axe emphasized that these were questions young men searched for daily and were often answered by Google. The campaign culminated in the question, "Is it okay for guys to just be themselves?"
Many young men were accustomed to unconditionally accepting the definitions of "real masculinity." Contrary to these stereotypes, Axe's advertising affirmed that it's perfectly okay for men to feel vulnerable, emotional, and sensitive.
In May 2017, the campaign became a widely discussed topic on social media, and the discussion continued throughout the following summer. Axe collaborated with influencers, especially on YouTube. Influencers created short videos in response to the question "Is it okay for guys…?" The most notable influencers included the boxer Anthony Joshua, who answered, "Is it okay for guys to do yoga?," vlogger Casey Barker, who addressed whether men can wear skinny jeans, and vlogger Riyadh K, who explored whether men can have long hair. As a result, young men became more open and began sharing their stories on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #isitokforguys.
In addition to campaign videos, Axe partnered with the NGO Ditch the Label to provide timely support and additional counseling for young men facing issues such as bullying, racial discrimination, and mental health challenges.
Consumers' positive emotions toward the brand increased by 56% compared to the same period in 2015. Importantly, the campaign contributed to a 90% increase in brand value.
The campaign's main video garnered 1.3 billion views in its first two weeks.
Many young men actively shared their stories, expanding the campaign's reach and engaging not only men but also mothers and women. This demonstrated deep empathy among women toward the issue of male stereotypes.
With the campaign's influence, Axe succeeded in raising social awareness about stereotypes related to men, while repositioning its brand in the eyes of consumers.
Images related to the campaign appeared on page 3 of The Metro, the front page of the London Evening Standard, the Daily Star featuring an illustration of Barack Obama (considered a new role model for masculinity), the Daily Express, and many other newspapers.