Commercial Analysis

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Keeping the Blade Sharp

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Axe, in it’s advertising, has always hidden behind the pretense of being “down to earth.” Not the type of brand to insult the consumer’s intelligence by claiming it’s products will automatically make him irresistible to the opposite sex. It does this, ironically enough, by claiming just that – in a very direct and over-the-top, tongue-in-cheek fashion that’s the hallmark of it’s commercials. The insinuation which comes from this tactic is that contrary to the claims of it’s competitors and/or predecessors, personal styling products don’t automatically make a man irresistible (even though that was never what the others claimed – instead it was only that it their products would help – but that’s beyond the scope of this analysis).

Why, then, would Axe now claim that it’s products will cultivate world peace? Surely none of the competition has ever made that claim. The reason is because even though Axe has pretended to be “down to earth”, it actually never has been. In fact, it has been doing exactly what it has said it was never doing – what it has accused it’s competition of doing – all along. It actually has been claiming that it’s products will automatically make the consumer sexually irresistible, and it has been doing this through a trick known as the big lie.

Axe knows that even though virtually no one consciously believes in such a simple solution to the challenge of being attractive, there are many who subconsciously wish for one, or who (because of faulty metaphysics) think one is possible. Such people, when they hear such flagrant claims, may consciously laugh them off as ridiculous, but will still subconsciously consider them as having merit (“surely no one would make such a flagrantly absurd claim – and only make such a flagrantly absurd claim – if there wasn’t at least some element of truth to it”).

The problem with this tactic, however, is that it’s untenable. Eventually even the most “metaphysically twisted” individual will subconsciously reject his non-objective metaphysical beliefs and begin to operate, at least in regards to this issue, according to an objective set of them. The result is someone who’s own personal experience has destroyed all confidence in the claim that something as simple as body spray will make him sexually irresistible (ie: “women keep behaving like women, god damn it!”. At this point, if the company wishes to continue to have him buy it’s product (even though the product is either not worth the money, or virtually identical in quality and effect to competing products, making his selection arbitrary), it is going to have to sustain the big lie by exploiting other irrational philosophic notions.

Many people believe in the political doctrine of collectivism, and the ethical doctrine of altruism. As a result, they become enthusiastic (and uncritical) whenever any behavior or suggestion is portrayed as being “for the greater good” and self-sacrificial. Axe knows that the capacity to desire simple solutions to complex challenges is still present in the consumer (because the metaphysical paradigm shift – from non-objective to objective – was only situational and subconscious), so if it wishes to go on exploiting it, all it needs to do is give him a rationalization for his to indulge it. The notion that the kind of attraction he seeks by using Axe products is not simply an involuntary, physiologically-induced reaction (which would be ugly and shameful, even if it were possible), but instead it is world-saving “love” is perfect for this.

Obviously the claim that nothing more than hair gel or body wash will make one irresistible to the opposite sex is absurd on it’s face, but even if it were true, the claim – that all it would take to achieve world peace is “love” between men and women (a blind, chemically-induced “love” no less) – would still be absurd by itself. Axe isn’t worried about this, however, because just as the first “big lie” created believers in it, for the same philosophical reasons, so will the second – and so there will continue to be suckers to continue to buy their products (at least until they have to come up with the next, even more perverse “reason”).


Written by commercialanalysis

February 13, 2014 at 8:51 am

Posted in Health, Soft Goods

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