Sometimes campaigns can work too well and backfire on the company that produces them.The ad campaign for AXE body spray was so successful that teenage nerds everywhere began dousing themselves in it—hurting the brand’s image and smelling up schools everywhere.
However, the brand’s early success soon began to backfire. The problem was, the ads had worked too well in persuading the Insecure Novices and Enthusiastic Novices to buy the product. Geeks and dorks everywhere were now buying Axe by the caseload, and it was hurting the brand’s image. Eventually (in the United States, at least), to most high school and college-aged males, Axe had essentially become the brand for pathetic losers, and not surprisingly, sales took a huge hit.
Then Axe faced another big problem. Insecure high school students had been so convincingly persuaded that Axe would make them sexually appealing that they began completely dousing themselves in it. After all, if Axe = sex, then more Axe = more sex, right? According to CBC News, “Some boys have been dousing themselves in Axe, apparently believing commercials that show a young man applying the deodorant and being immediately hit on by beautiful women.” It got to the point where the students were reeking so heavily of it that it was becoming a distraction at school. So much so that in Minnesota, school district officials attempted to ban it, claiming that “the man spray has been abused, and the aerosol stench is a hazard for students and faculty.” The principal of one Canadian school started actually confiscating bottles of Axe. “They spray it all over their heads and their necks,” one teacher said. “They don’t realise how powerful the odor is. . . . They have no idea how much it takes to be a walking stink bomb [which is] basically what they are.”
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