Axe plods along the road to male empowerment in new campaign from Ponce

Clients seem to get more entangled in their peculiar thought processes by the day.

Apparently the main reason WPP has declined to pitch for McDonald’s is the client’s insistence that the “winning” agency handles the account at cost, relying on McD’s generosity in devising incentives and paying bonuses. Which it may not do, of course.

Unilever is another one that’s been ringing the changes, moving to a system of “zero-based budgeting,” which means that everyone wastes their time re-deciding things they should have decided already. Unilever has also been playing ducks and drakes with one of its biggest brands, Axe (Lynx in some markets).

In 2015 Axe appeared to dump BBH, which begat the celebrated ‘Angels’ campaign, although the agency insisted it remained on the brand’s roster. Earlier this year 72andSunny unveiled a big new Axe campaign – ‘Find Your Magic’ – which seemed to put it in the driving seat. We described as a kind of ‘Dove’ (Real Beauty Sketches and all that) for men. ‘Angels’ it wasn’t, being more the case of the brief writ large.

Now Argentine agency Ponce is on the case with what looks like a new campaign, ‘Not just a pretty hairstyle,’ but one which, at a pinch, could be seen as an extension of the 72andSunny work.

Closing with the helpful intelligence that “we make hairstyling easy so you can concentrate on your skills.” Oh goody, more empowerment.

The ad’s competent enough, although a bit leaden. But the thought behind it is patronising nonsense. It’s haircare not personal development. It would be far more honest just to try to sell us something.

Unilever ought to go back to BBH and say: sorry guys we screwed up, give us another piece of, er, now what did we call it back then? That’s it, advertising!

MAA creative scale: 3.

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