Axe shows some professionalism

The Unilever brand continues to mature by celebrating the confidence of self-made success.


Axe continues to evolve its messaging in a masterbrand video campaign dubbed “Selfmaker.”

Working with Sid Lee, which was named AOR for the brand in November, Axe created three videos (and one manifesto statement) telling the stories of Canadian men who abandoned traditional paths to success to create their own. These “Selfmakers” include Charles Bierbrier, who left a stable bank job to form Bierbrier Brewing; Tomas Romita, who was on the path to being an accountant before starting Made Clothing Co.; and Thugli, the DJ duo of Tom Wrecks and Pat Drastik whose careers took off once they moved to the same city and began collaborating.

The videos are living on the brand’s YouTube channel and Tumblr page and will be supported with influencer outreach handled by Harbinger and paid media handled by Mindshare.

Axe has been getting away from its “teen boy” association with a mixture of new, more sophisticated-looking products like the White Label line and spots that, while still cheeky, get away from the “pack of girls wildly chasing boys wearing Axe” trope common in some of the brand’s previous work. Working off insights from global masculinity studies, the brand found taking control of their own professional success is something that is very important to modern males.

“We’ve always been a brand rooted in confidence, but we are evolving as guys are evolving,” says Jessica Grigoriou, marketing director of hair care and deodorants at Unilever Canada. “We are thinking about guys’ full life mentality, and that includes things beyond just getting the girl.”

Grigoriou says confidence is at the core of the brand, and these videos focus on the moments when the “Selfmakers” had the confidence to try something new. Axe also chose to feature people working in different categories to appeal to a range of male demographics, but also to show that being a self-made success is more about passion (whatever that passion might be) than it is moving to the top of a corporate ladder.

“We know that appeals to a large demographic of guys, so this campaign will be aspirational for a younger demographic that is beginning to thinking about what their own path might look like, or maybe a guy who has already started down that path and has the confidence to follow what he is passionate about,” Grigoriou says.

While the videos ditch the humour the brand has been known for, Grigoriou says the idea was not about being serious, but to match the tone of the stories being told, right down to saying “f*ck it” when the time comes to try something new.

“In that moment when you take that leap of faith, ‘f*ck it, I’m going to make this is happen,’ is a very natural, relatable thing to say and think to yourself,” she says. “We didn’t feel like we should censor their stories and those moments.”