Axe VS. Old Spice – The Viral Campaign

Marketing and the affects it has over consumers is an interesting phenomenon to watch.   With the increasing importance of the internet to marketing, campaigns have become intricate.  In some instances, the campaigns are downright hilarious, drawing consumers into an ongoing story purposed to sell.  Companies are increasingly using web, television, and print advertising as a whole, with each element interlocking to move the story forward.

A recent and notable example is the rivalry between the competing brands Axe and Old Spice.  Both brands specialize in bath products for men, and both are competing for market share of the same demographic.  Each company has invested significantly in its respective campaigns.

Axe has focused on presenting itself as an attractant for beautiful women.  Not just one woman, but multiple women showing great interest in the young man that has used an Axe product.  Old Spice has focused on positioning itself as the line of bath products for men that transform and ordinary man into and extraordinary man.

Both campaigns market to young men, ages 18-24, who are interested in appealing to women.  Both campaigns are promoting bath products for men.  However, that is where the similarities end.  Axe focuses on positioning itself as a female attractant, demonstrating what could happen to an Axe user in real life scenarios.  Old Spice has approached from the angle of fantasy, showing an attractive man in manly, exotic and mildly humorous situations that involve one or more beautiful women.  Old Spice was also an early adapter of an innovative animation technology.  With this technology Old Spice portrayed one actor seamlessly moving from exotic scene to exotic scene, but without the actor doing anything but posing and speaking.

At one point, the battle for market share of bath products for men led to Axe poking at Old Spice on various print and billboard advertising.  Not directly, but through allusions to the OldSpice message.  There was a billboard that stated “For Men Who’d Rather Be With a Woman Than on a Horse”  and showed a bottle of Axe.   The ad was posted shortly after an OldSpice commercial was put on the air that showed a handsome, shirtless man on a horse.

With the ever increasing importance of the internet as a medium of communication, companies are pulling out the stops to create engaging messaging.  Ads on the television, ads before online videos, sponsored stories, traditional print ads, billboards, sponsorships,  co-branding, cross promotion, and an active presence on twitter and facebook are standard faire for a modern marketing campaign.  For companies to build a market for products, masterful, interconnected advertising through a multitude of platforms.  It is called branding.  Advertising has grown into marketing, which is blossoming into branding.

Consumers are in for an era of ever present branding, elaborate stories designed to sell products, feuding brands, and logos everywhere.

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