The World of AXE Is 'Lick-able, Addictive'

Spray on Lust

If a product made the not-so-subtle promise that one use would make women want to lick all over you, it would probably grab your attention.

Sex, sex and more sex is the tried-and-true hook that the makers of AXE -- a line of male-deodorant body products -- have used in their relentless advertising to reel in young men.

"[It's] a lick-able, addictive fragrance," said Jeanine Bernstock, the company's fragrance development manager.

AXE's commercials boast that just one long spray across a young man's chest -- as we were told was the best way to wear the fragrance -- would instantly cause countless voluptuous ladies to chase after him, pawing for his affections.

AXE's marketing director, Mike Dwyer, called this the "AXE lifestyle" and said the body spray is the perfect wing-man for their target demographic of 18- to 24-year-olds who are in the "mating game."

"It is about really making you feel comfortable with the right scent, and a scent that girls like," he said. "AXE, at the end of the day, is a brand about giving guys confidence."

Their most popular scent is "Dark Temptation," which is tailored to smell like chocolate ice cream and, of course, comes with its own saucy commercial -- this one featuring two women licking all over a young man made out of chocolate. AXE contracted Senior Vice President perfumer Jean-Marc Chaillan and senior perfumer Loc Gong of the fragrance house IFF to help create the delicious scent.

"It's creamy…very good," Chaillan said.

No wonder AXE is selling so well. In fact, according to Unilever, which makes the brand, AXE by itself is the largest men's grooming brand in sales in the United States.

The company wouldn't reveal exactly what combination of ingredients goes into making its scents, only to say that they use a collection of flowers, herbs and spices.

"Lots of secret ingredients," Dong said. "I'm very happy if I get about 35 ingredients, which is perfect."

Bernstock is an expert smeller in charge of making sure the perfumers get the latest AXE scent to be tantalizing to the senses. She said she smells about 25 different fragrances a day, and searching for the most profitable one isn't easy.

AXE Leads the Men's Grooming Products Market

"I think it's anything you want to keep on smelling," she said. "You want to keep going back and saying, 'Oh, that smells so good, I can't get enough of it.'"

A decade ago, a simple swipe of deodorant or spritz of cologne seemed to do the trick for most guys heading out on the town. But now, fellas, you can forget about whatever scent advice your father gave you.

Unilever practically invented the body spray category in 2002. It has helped fuel an enormous boom in men's grooming products, which is expected to balloon to a $33.2 billion-a-year industry by 2015, according to a report by Global Industry Analysts, Inc.

Although Dwyer said AXE is aimed at college-aged to young professional men, the constant push for cool has made its products widely popular among middle- and high-school students.

So much so that there have been numerous reports of schools across the country banning the body sprays from classrooms because they caused too much of a distraction.

AXE has also tapped into social media, with an active Twitter account that tweets out advice and giveaways, as well as sponsored events in major cities. But in the end, those "lick-able" scents are what drive good business for AXE.

"What might be uncomfortable for one person might be absolutely funny for someone else," Mike Dwyer said. "The style we have chosen is the AXE lifestyle."

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