AXE ‘Wake Up Service’ – A Perfect Example of Digital Media Engagement


In 2007, Axe successfully launched in Japan. But whilst Axe had recruited lots of users, post-launch research showed that guys in Japan sprayed Axe only few times a week – about half as often as users in some other parts of the world.

This was a huge growth opportunity – we could almost double our sales if we could get existing Axe users to spray everyday.

Achieving this meant making Axe a part of young guys’ morning routine – the natural time for Axe usage. This required us to do more than simply tell guys to spray everyday; we needed to understand the male morning routine and find a way to break into it.

In studying the Japanese target, we learned that most Japanese guys use their mobile phone as alarm clock.  So we created the Axe Wake Up Service, a sexy mobile alarm application that gave guys a daily wake-up call reminding them to spray Axe, and a multi-channel campaign to drive consumers towards it.

By turning the usual planning conundrum on its head, thinking ‘Channel First, Message Second’. instead of ‘Message First, Channel Second’, we created a campaign that generated massive buzz and helped increase Axe’s purchase repeat rate dramatically.

Axe (aka Lynx in the UK) is the biggest selling male body spray in the world, hugely popular with young guys for its advertising. It is sold in over 80 countries as a fragrance body spray that helps guys get the girls – communicated with the tagline ‘The Axe Effect’.

In early 2007, Axe launched with great success in Japan, winning several awards and being featured in Nikkei Newspaper’s ‘Trendy Hit Product Ranking 2007’ outranking Krispy Kreme and iPod.

Just two months into the campaign brand awareness had risen dramatically, and by September we had overtaken male grooming category veteran and market leader Gatsby. Most importantly, within only a few weeks of launch, Axe had become the number one selling male deodorant in the market.

We realised however that repeat purchasing was happening less frequently in Japan than in other markets. Further dramatic growth on this rapidly built base would not be possible unless we could convince Japanese guys to replace their cans more often.

Young Japanese guys are advanced groomers – very conscious of their appearance and frequent users of male grooming products from hair wax to facial cleansers. However body odour is not a major issue in Japan and as a result, deodorant is not a well-established category. Whilst in western markets deodorant or fragrance body spray is considered an essential part of daily hygiene, our Japanese consumers used Axe more like a fine fragrance.

In other markets around the world, Axe is used daily and sometimes even more than once a day which meant that Japanese Axe users weren’t using their cans up as quickly as Axe users in the rest of the world. This presented us with a huge potential for further growth – we could almost double our sales just by getting those existing Axe users to spray everyday.

The challenge for communications therefore was to break into guys’ morning routine and to make spraying Axe part of their very entrenched morning behaviour.

The usual approach would have been to develop a campaign that tells guys to spray Axe every day or every morning. The brief could only have focused on finding reasons why they should. Reasons that are relevant to Axe’s brand promise.

So the brief could have only talked about the fact that encounters with the opposite sex don’t only happen at weekends or in the evenings in bars. We could have sourced stimulus about meeting the object of your desire on the bus or train on the way to work.

And it would probably have led to a decent TV commercial that brings this to life.

As one can see, finding the right message was the easy bit.

But getting young guys to use Axe everyday required us to do more than simply tell our guys to spray everyday. We needed to change or break into a routine. And we needed to find the right channel to do this effectively.


~ by rtymerej on July 2, 2010.

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