AXE “Premature Perspiration”

AXE has established itself as a worldwide brand name in home and personal care products with emphasis on deodorants and shampoos for men. Through their massive marketing campaign that includes AXE commercials, samples and advertisements, AXE has become a leading force in the personal care market. It also has allowed the company to establish their purpose of meeting the everyday needs of people everywhere while promising to help guys look, smell and feel their best. However these advertisements often if not always tend to focus on the symbolism behind what their products can do outside of personal care and grooming without actually talking about the products itself. The AXE brand therefore has established an ideology in consumers that AXE will give you the ability to have sex with pretty girls you probably had no shot with .The company does this through always using what society considers to be hot or beautiful women but average looking men who somehow end up getting the girl out of their league simply by using AXE, which can be seen in the commercial, Premature Perspiration.

In Premature Perspiration you see average looking men who see girls they consider to be hot and out of their league. As these men begin to see these women they suddenly break out into heavy perspiration, which is shown to be a major turn off for the women. As these men continue to perspire, they begin to start breaking down emotionally as the women leave. One of the men however uses AXE and suddenly becomes better looking, confident and ultimately gets the girl. The commercial played into the ideology that AXE allows its consumers to get the beautiful girl through the use of their products.

Through this perspective you can also see that the commercial identifies the two subject positions, models and anti-models. The model is the one guy who decides to use the axe product and gets the girl, while the anti-models are all the other men who don’t use axe products and end up without the girl. In terms of a Marxist perspective, there are various economic metaphors at play. For one the anti-models look to be part of the middle working class, their possessions tend to be nothing special or something of great value while their status seems to be one of poor respect. The men are seen in places of low worth when they begin to perspire, which include a low class living room, a coin laundry and a bowling alley. These are typically places or situations where you would not see men with high socioeconomic status and power.

Hegemony is defined as the privileging of a dominant’s group ideology over that of other groups (Sellnow 72). The commercial plays into this theory of hegemony. It does this by accepting the dominant norm in society that beautiful women should and can only be with the typical hot male unless they do something to themselves, example using AXE. It also plays into hegemony through the socioeconomic symbols in the commercial of wealth and power. All the men experiencing premature perspiration also are shown to lack economic status, in that they would not be considered well off in society. This plays into the notion that people without money experience problems both physically, the perspiration and emotionally, the breakdowns. Hegemony is also evident through the fact that the commercial shows that only physically attractive and beautiful women have the ability to make men perspire. This also agrees with the socially accepted ideology that beautiful women are empowered and looks matter.

The manipulation of advertising and their marketing strategies has allowed the AXE brand to become a worldwide leader in personal care products.  Through playing into society’s accepted norms and acknowledging their values, AXE has been able to directly relate to a huge target market. This is evident in the Marxist analysis performed as well as the various socioeconomic symbols in the commercial. AXE shows that they use society’s interest in beautiful women to create a scenario in which any guy can get even the most beautiful girl. Lastly, despite AXE creating false hope in the minds of their customers, they do a great job of making society believe in the ideology that using AXE is common sense and will empower you through their use of hegemony and clever promises.

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One thought on “AXE “Premature Perspiration”

  1. As a text for examining under the Marxist perspective, the choice of the Axe line of “Premature Perspiration” advertisements was appropriate in that it met all the requirements for analysis and provided much to be discovered from a rhetorical perspective. The author does an excellent job of describing Axe as a brand, and as a global strength in the personal care industry, and furthermore does a good job of describing the line of advertisements to be analyzed. Fortunately I was aware of both Axe’s products and their position as a company (or daughter branch of Unilever), prior to reading the post. Arguments made regarding the support to the hegemony of attractive males of a higher socio-economic status were supported and understandable; however, I felt that the inclusion of an intended reading and an initial decision of the type of reading would have added to the strength of the author’s points.

    Based on the fact that Axe deodorant spray is designed for men and the presence of what would be considered attractive women in the advertisement it is clear that this campaign was intended for teen to middle aged males. This makes the fact that, as stated, the model is the man who gets the girl and the anti-models are the men that don’t more prominent since the ad is designed for men and it is men that do or don’t want to be like these models and anti-models respectively. This idea of men being the intended audience further strengthens the argument of hegemony of more attractive men since it is the man that “uses AXE and suddenly becomes better looking” (Nadim) that is considered the character male viewers would strive to be like. However, after viewing the advertisement it is not evident to me that the model that uses the body spray actually becomes physically more attractive and this leads me believe that this text can be analyzed as an inflected oppositional reading. Since Axe appears to be displaying “average looking men” (Nadim) actually ending up with the attractive women, requiring only the aid of a body spray (and possibly some confidence), they are slightly opposing and bending the hegemony of attractive men as opposed to supporting it to increase the desire to purchase Axe deodorant sprays. Such a Marxist message would support the success of Axe since it appeals to the average male who may have thought that he did not stand a chance with attractive females like the ones depicted in the ad.

    Lastly, with regards to the empowerment of men from a higher socio-economic class, the ad does not portray the model to have risen in class after applying the body spray and this makes it difficult to concur with the argument that the hegemony is of the men of the higher class based on this evidence. However, if we only examine the presence for a support of the hegemony of the higher class altogether we can notice that all the attractive and desirable females in the line of advertisements appear in fashionable clothing, jewellery and have an overall sense of belonging to a higher economic class than the men who appear in plain clothes. Since the women in the advertisement appear to be more powerful than the men in the advertisement (it is the men that sweat in the presence of the women) the text acts as a preferable reading, in this regards, that supports the hegemony of the higher economic class; consequently, a viewer might feel it is matter-of-fact that an attractive powerful woman must be part of a higher socio-economic class.

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