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"In a world filled with war, what is the most powerful weapon?"
Tags: advertising, axe, brand, brandstrategy, critique
I love this video. Not so much as a great piece of advertising, but because of the message, superb production quality, the entertainment value, and the grandeur of it. It's a big, bold spot; a wonderful piece of nano-cinema. It's just not great advertising.
My critique can probably be summarized by saying that the spot is WAY bigger than the brand. That's not necessarily a negative about Axe, it's just that the "Big Creative Idea" of the spot - the fundamental idea around which the story of the advertising is built - is just much much larger than scented body spray.
The story tackles what appears to be major geopolitical struggles around the world - Asia, the Middle East, Europe. They throw in a Tiananmen Square reference, something that looks like it could be Vietnam, someone who looks like he could be North Korea's Kim Jon-un, even an Arab with his finger on what appears to be the nuclear button. They've got about all of the major conflict you could imagine folded into this story.
So, you may ask, what does this have to do with Axe? Exactly.
At the end of the day, advertising is about selling product. That's it. There are no other objectives; not winning Cannes Lions, not creating a reel to advance your directing career, nothing. Making people laugh or smile or cry or whatever is great - but it must be in service of accomplishing concrete business objectives. It has to make people buy. Period.
This is one of those ads where the brand ID is so fleeting, the idea of the spot is so disconnected from the product, and - frankly - the entertainment value is so high, that the vast majority of people will not remember who the ad is for. They may like the ad, but not remember the brand behind it. In that scenario, with all of the things going for it, the work fails as advertising.
At least portray your brand or product as the clear hero of the spot. Make the body spray the obvious reason why all of these situations end positively. Weave Axe into the story - as the solution (however farcical) to all of these problems. In fact, making the humorous connection between Axe, love, and solving all of the world's problems, could have been an effective and strategic way to deliver the story. Most would probably walk away understanding the metaphor. Hey, if Axe can solve all of the world's problems maybe it can solve mine too!
It's disappointing that so many advertising creatives are still so unclear about the fact that effective advertising cannot just be about creating great content and then throwing a bit of brand ID at the end. It's more than that. This Axe ad could have been a truly great one with greater integration of the brand into the story, utilizing humor to explain how Axe saved the world. It would have been funny and would have moved product. It's a missed opportunity.
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