you know you have done something right


You often know you have done something right if you have pissed someone off.

Ok. That was extreme.

How about not everyone.  Just some people.

Really? (you say).


Great ideas and thoughts tend to be polarizing.


Let me be clear.

Some ideas are polarizing because they are just, well, stupid & bad.

That is why I opened this with “often.”

What made me decide to write about this is because a pretty good Axe deodorant commercial was banned. And if you would have told me I would have typed “pretty good Axe commercial” a year ago I would have laughed out loud.

I have found most of their advertising banal, juvenile, simplistic to the point of being mindless and pointless.


I cannot argue with the fact Axe knows exactly who their target customer is and what makes that customer tick.

And I also admit I love the focus.  Too often companies want to be everything to everyone … and even if they do make a choice they don’t make the hard decisions in their communication to go for the jugular with that target customer.

Axe is about late teen/young 20’s guys.

Axe is about what matters to these guys is girls. Oh.  And not just any girls but good looking girls (you may not get them but you certainly want them).

And recently some Christians took offense to how Axe approached that thinking and figured out a way to get the commercial banned.

In my eyes?

Any time Christians (or any group driven by a philosophical stance for that matter) gets your commercial pulled you have probably done something right.

Here is the Axe ad:

Angels will Fall:

Being polarizing at its best means you are not just reacting subjectively or spontaneously but rather the thinking is anchored in some kind of truth.  Sure.  The truth may be demonstrated in some vivid or extreme terms … but it is a truth.


Young men want to have beautiful women attracted to them.

Even more of a truth?

Average looking young men want extremely beautiful women attracted to them.

Even more of a truth?

Average looking young men want extremely beautiful women SO attracted to them that they don’t have to be overt and take a chance of getting turned down and have the women come to them.

That is what Axe has anchored their over the top vivid metaphorical advertising on.

Should it be banned for its metaphor? No.  In fact it is silly to do so (although Axe has to be ecstatic for all the free public relations they are getting).

Should Axe be lauded for using this metaphor? Yes.

It is good advertising.

It is actually smart advertising (beyond the fact it is actually entertaining advertising).

And my sense it is effective advertising (what young man doesn’t want to think beautiful angels will fall from the sky for them).


Doing something marketwise that gets banned (and actually knowing you have done something right versus just something that was stupid and should have been banned) has to  begin with a mature, realistic, insightful and rational perspective.

By definition, oppositional thinking means you are aware of some existing premise or position and that you are thinking in comparative and contrasting terms.

Great communication captures the distinct individuality of the brand/product/person and often challenges or pokes playfully at the conventional belief.  And, yet, through vivid metaphors encourages fresh and evocative/provocative expression.

Sometimes this is called be ‘smartfully disruptive.’

Sometimes it is just called being smart.

Expressively being disruptive, or taking the status quo and making it absurd, is just good ole plain smart oppositional thinking. And with Axe they have used great target insight in that it combines a challenge to authority or ‘the way it’s always been’ tradition.

It’s a beautiful use of skewering the high-minded and the rigid and/or self-righteous (which young men in particular love to do).

As a guy named von Oech said in his book, Whack on the Side of the Head, said …

“Sacred cows make great steaks.”

As I said upfront … I have never been a big fan of Axe marketing but this idea is brilliant.

And it is EXTREMELY well produced.


And it must be working because I just heard that Axe deodorant is in the top 5 (#4 I believe) items most often shoplifted from grocery stores.  Now that, my friends, is advertising creating demand.

Written by Bruce