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W+K’s Neil Christie: Why BBH’s Axe is a Modern Classic

With the recent appointment of 72andSunny to their roster, it sounds as if things may be changing at Lynx/Axe. So when asked to suggest a ‘modern classic’ campaign, I thought it was worth highlighting some of the great work BBH has done on the brand over the years.

It’s not a classic campaign in the sense of there being a single creative vehicle that has been used consistently over time, but there is a strong brand tone of voice and sense of humour. Some of the work looks a bit dated and sexist in the post-lads’ mag era, but it certainly captured the attention of its target at the time, and the campaign has evolved to become wittier and a little less brash.

There’s no huge strategic leap forward in most of the campaign; the idea is basically just an update of the old Hai Karate / Denim aftershave ad formula: hot girls are irresistibly attracted to ordinary blokes by the power of the product. But Lynx has generally done it with such style and humour that, in my opinion, it is a bit of a classic. Here are a few of my favourite TV spots from the campaign.

This is one of the earlier ones that I recall: a series of gorgeous girlfriends say things they would be highly unlikely ever to say under normal circumstances, like, “I could listen to you talk about football all day.” How come? The Lynx effect.

‘Getting Dressed’ was the intriguing and winningly executed story of a one night stand told in reverse.

‘Sporty Girl’ was one of a series about different types of girlfriend and how to keep them happy. Nicely written: I love the line, “Nothing says I love you like breaking the bridge of another man’s nose.” Harder to see exactly what the role of the product is in the relationship between the hero and his girlfriend in this one (no Lynx effect) but it’s sufficiently entertaining that you don’t really notice.

‘Susan Glenn’ is my most recent favourite. Beautifully written again, and brilliantly delivered by Kiefer Sutherland. With this execution the campaign has taken us from lad humour to moving nostalgia for unrequited love and missed opportunities. Nice work. A high bar for any new agency to measure up to.

imagesNeil Christie is managing director of Wieden+Kennedy London.

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