4 min read

Kudos to AXE for Thinking Outside the Man Box

This is leadership.

At the announcement of the AXE Senior Orientation program on August 23, 2017 in New York City.

The world of advertising has traditionally played a major role in perpetuating toxic stereotypes for men and women. So when a major men’s grooming brand take a stand for inclusive masculinity, it must be noted and celebrated. I was recently invited by AXE to attend an event in NYC as part of their Find Your Magic Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to help break the cycle of toxic masculinity to make a more equal world for everyone.

I was pleasantly intrigued. I was unaware of the new positioning of the brand. I still remembered AXE being more concerned about celebrating womanizers than playing outside the man box.

The Find your Magic initiative

I am happy that I was wrong. Find Your Magic is not a random brand re-positioning.

After successfully “relaunching” the brand with a banger ad spot scoring almost 11 millions views at this time, AXE did not simply change their marketing message, they embraced self-expression as a brand manifesto and are implementing a comprehensive plan to play an active role in shuttering tough manhood myths.

“AXE did not simply change their marketing message, they embraced self-expression as a brand manifesto.”

I am grateful that AXE has taken the initiative to dive deeper in understanding the root causes of toxic masculinity and its impact on young men. In their film “Is it ok for guys?”, they brilliantly highlight the tough questions with which guys privately struggle before turning to Google for guidance. It perfectly illustrates how closeted many men feel, and how toxic yet how too real the man box is.

AXE also partnered with key non-profit organizations – PromundoThe Representation Project and Ditch the Label – to unveil the causes and effects of the issue, drive awareness among both men and women, and help provide young men with tools to be their most authentic selves.

They notably:

  • Commissioned a study from research experts Promundo to better understand the challenges and pressures young guys face as the result of masculine stereotypes.
  • Sponsored the “Unmasked” campus tour, enabling The Representation Project to bring screenings of its film “The Mask You Live In” to young men and women across the country.
  • Worked with Ditch the Label, an anti-bullying organization, to create a new digital network that supports guys struggling with toxic masculinity through a unique online community.

Senior Orientation

The press event I attended was part of the latest AXE campaign called “Senior Orientation”. John Legend and poet and manhood expert Carlos Andrés Gómez kicked off the program dedicated to bringing a message of self-expression and inclusivity directly to high school students.  Through a custom curriculum and series of performances, seniors will be encouraged to foster an environment of inclusive masculinity. The program will rally seniors to take a mentorship role with underclassmen that shows them there’s no one way to “be a man.” Both Legend and Gomez will also help select and mentor students to perform at Senior Orientation to express their own unique voices to their school.

The event itself was a genuine and intimate conversation about manhood featuring high school student Solomon Mussing and transgender activist Hunter Klugkist alongside the two headliners. As they were all sharing their experiences in a venue beautifully redecorated as a high school classroom, one could feel the authenticity and the importance of this conversation.

All in all, AXE’s initiative is truly remarkable. It goes to show that it is never too late for a brand or anybody to do good. Kudos to them for thinking outside the man box. This is leadership that ought to be followed.

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