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Music Fridays: The Dangers of Marketing the Douchebags Edition

By Amanda Marcotte
Friday, November 4, 2011 12:21 EDT
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Whoop! Panda Party time! Let's make this Panda Party a toast to the douchebags and the assholes. 

Why toast douchebags? For giving us the opportunity to be deeply amused at their expense for being such easy marks for marketers. (Via.)

Unilever accompanied roughly 100 males (identical studies were later carried out across other European countries, North America, and Latin America) ages 15 to 50 to the pubs until three or four in the morning and (soberly, while secretly taking copious notes) watched them in action. After poring over their pages and pages of notes, via a process known in the industry as "segmentation," the Unilever team isolated six psychological profiles of the male animal — and the potential Axe user: the Predator, the Natural Talent, the Marriage-Material Guy, Always the Friend, the Insecure Novice, and the Enthusiastic Novice……

So with the Insecure Novice as the primary target, Axe came up with a series of 30-second TV commercials that preyed on what its research had revealed to be the ultimate male fantasy: to be irresistible to not just one but several sexy women. 

Axe may have been trying to rope all sorts of insecure dudes, but what they ended up getting, as you can imagine, are Nice Guys®. After all, insecure guys who are actually nice and/or intelligent don't see women primarily as unfortunate obstacles between them and vaginas. The Axe customer views women in the same way they view that really unpleasant level in a video game that you have to finish to get to the fun level, and so they're constantly looking for cheat codes. The notion that flirting, dating, even—god forbid—getting to know a woman could be pleasant in and of itself is something they simply can't fathom. And so as ludicrous as Axe's claims were that their product was essentially a cheat code that made it possible for men to skip the process of speaking to women, flirting with women, and being charming to women, douchebags believed it. They needed to believe it. And Axe paid the price. 

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-age males, Axe had essentially become the brand for pathetic losers and, not surprisingly, sales took a huge hit. 

Anyone who has ever blogged about Axe's stupid commercials can attest to this. Posting on it inevitably draws comments from douchebags who swear it works, because of pheromones or whatnot. You would think their own personal experience would dissuade them of this notion, but no.

So, in honor of the douchebags and assholes, Panda Party!

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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