SELF-ESTEEM FOR MEN
BASED ON PERSONALITY AND TALENTS

SELF-ESTEEM FOR MEN
BASED ON PERSONALITY AND TALENTS

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Axe Almost Finds Its Magic

Axe Almost Finds It's Magic

Axe Almost Finds It's Magic

BY ALISON ROSS

This is the story of an ad that I almost love.

Axe launched their “Find Your Magic” campaign, conceived by the 72andSunny agency, in January 2016. Just a few weeks later, the ad was played during the 50th Superbowl. That was the night I first watched it, and, I loved it. I had seen many ads (most of them by Dove) that rejected narrow standards of female beauty, but this was the first ad I’d seen that rejected rigid male stereotypes. Axe and Dove are both owned by Unilever, and “Find Your Magic” seems like Unilever’s attempt to create a male version of their Dove campaigns.

Fast forward to November 2017, and Axe is still running the successful campaign, and they’ve introduced a spinoff campaign that tackles issues like bullying, homosexuality and mental illness. The “Find Your Magic” campaign has a lot of potentials to address men’s issues, but once I took a closer look at the original “Find Your Magic” ad, I realized that, as much as it tries not to, it actually reinforces a lot of the gendered messages that it appears to subvert.

The ad’s core message is that men who don’t fit the media’s narrow standard of “six pack” hotness, should remember that “you’ve got your thing, now work on it.”  When the ad gives examples of positive “things” that a man can have, the “things” are all actions, personality traits, and talents. A man flicks a piece of chalk after presumably solving the math equation on the chalkboard in the background (he’s “got the brains”). Another man dances on a treadmill (he’s “got the moves”). Another man proves that he’s a gentleman when he hold’s the car door open for his date (perhaps this is an outdated trope too?).

While “Find your Magic” promotes self-esteem for men based on personality and talents, Dove’s “Real Beauty” ads, promote self-esteem for women based on physical appearance. True, the ads celebrate women of all shapes, sizes, and ages, but they focus on these women’s looks, instead of their personalities or skills.

Although both “Real Beauty” and “Find Your Magic” feature women and men who aren’t typically represented in advertising, they have messages that construct differences between the genders- men can find self-esteem in their skills, and women can find self-esteem in their looks. I’m not trying to take the focus away from men, but shouldn’t skills, personality and heart matter more than looks for everybody?

It’s great that Unilever finally made an ad that addresses men’s issues after spending more than a decade focusing on women’s issues, but their next step might be to take a look away from the mirror and focus on more important things in their Dove Ads. And, they should keep up the good work with “Find Your Magic” and now “Is it okay for guys…” 

 


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