Unilver's Axe brand is encouraging young men and women to rethink masculinity, suggesting there are many possible answers.
The brand this week launched the “Find Your Magic Initiative” which builds on a previous effort that questioned traditional images of masculinity and encouraged men to find their individuality. While the previous effort was a more traditional marketing campaign, the new “Find Your Magic Initiative” includes partnerships with not-for-profits and other influencers to go deeper into masculinity and perhaps explode some stereotypes about what it means, says Rik Strubel, global VP for Axe.
“We believe guys should embrace what makes them truly unique and authentic,” Strubel says. “Our aim is to create a healthier, more equal world by reaching men and women with this message. Axe hopes to further ignite the conversation about the pressures guys face to conform to rigid expectations of masculinity.”
At the heart of the initiative is a video that directly questions things young men and women have heard about themselves and manliness. The video (from agency 72andSunny) uses questions that people have typed into Google about what things are "OK" for men. The film uses first-person perspective and various voiceovers asking questions like: “Is it OK to be skinny?” “Is it OK to not like sports?” “Is it OK for guys to wear pink?” The film also ventures into deeper territory, asking whether it’s ok to be a virgin or to experiment with other guys or to be depressed. The spot ends with the message “Is it OK for guys to be themselves?” before ending with the brand name and “Find your magic” message.
“As a global lifestyle brand, we have a substantial platform and we see it as our responsibility to use it for good,” Strubel tells Marketing Daily. “The campaign helps bring this to life by highlighting the tough questions guys privately struggle with and are asking Google in search of answers.”
In addition, the brand has enlisted social media influencers such as Hunter Klugkist, William Haynes, Josh Peck, Ryan McNulty and Wes Armstrong to share their own experiences and stories of masculinity. The brand is also working with not-for-profit organizations such as The Representation Project (which is screening the film “The Mask You Live In” on college campuses) and Ditch the Label (which is creating a new social network for guys struggling with “toxic masculinity” to find resources and connections to online counselors) to explore the issue deeper through events and studies.
“We realize this means tackling very tough issues, and we realize we’re not experts in these areas. That’s why we’ve collaborated with those who are,” Strubel says. “We’re entirely focused on one thing — our mission to give guys confidence and help them define who they are on their own terms, without pressure to be someone else.”