Taking its own tag line to heart ("Make an Understatement"), the campaign only mentions the Axe brand in passing, and only at the end of the videos.
The campaign, on IFC Free On-Demand, Verizon FiOS and Time Warner, boast a reach of about 25 million homes with digital TV and on-demand services.
The 1- to 3-minute films focus on conversations between two friends, Billy and Fitz. Billy aspires to be a lady's man, but is misguided in his pickup attempts. Fitz is the foil who reminds Billy to tone it down. Their conversations are punctuated by the tag line: "Make an understatement."
The laughs come from Fritz's overzealous efforts to woo girls, which involve everything from reading Anna Karenina in a restaurant to sporting an ill-advised mustache.
A Unilever spokeswoman says that Axe is the first advertiser ever to test the equivalent of "search marketing on televisions." She says audiences using Verizon's advanced search functionality to seek out comedies, films, etc. will find the AXE Proximity films, produced by Unilever, at the top of their search results.
"On-demand viewers will either be drawn to the free films by their quirky titles, or they will encounter teasers for the films that play in front of other real movie trailers," she says of the campaign, which parallels the integrated Axe Proximity effort, through the first half of September.