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Axe Body Spray is familiar for many reasons. For one, the smell. But also, the brand’s ads have been at times beloved, hated or beloved and hated at the same time. In 2016, the company’s approach has changed, and it’s getting a lot of attention. Why? We’ll get to that. But where did the journey begin? And how have the ads evolved? If there weren’t an attraction to the scents of Axe, it wouldn’t exist. At least, not for as long as it has. So, here we’ll walk you through Axe’s timeline, from conception to its renaissance. It’s, dare we say, quite the journey:

Mid-’90s

Ad: “Axe Africa” feat. Charlize Theron
Year: 1995

Besides featuring a young Charlize Theron, this kind of ad is what Axe has been known for. A guy sprays his bare body with Axe Body Spray, and all of a sudden two women, a desk clerk and a guest of a hotel, want to have a threesome.

Ad: “Strictly for Men”
Year: 1996

This is a little different. The “Axe Effect” is still in play here, but oh no! A woman has sprayed herself with men’s body spray! And, of course, women are just suddenly really horny for her. And, of course, she’s angry! She goes right to her boyfriend and says hey, did you know about this? 

Late-’90s

Ad: “The Axe Effect”
Year: 1997

The message of this ad is unclear. It almost seems like we’re meant to acknowledge the scent’s lingering presence, because one man sprays it on his body before work in an elevator, and then another guy walks in. Here’s the twist! A woman walks in after, and smells the fragrance and becomes, you guessed it, immediately horny! They presumably have intercourse off-stage, and she leaves while the man collects himself. But wait, another twist! The boy who just got some has a new vixen: an old lady! Uh oh!

Ad: “Harem”
Year: 1999

This ad is just gross. A man named Adbul sprays his junk with Axe Body Spray, and all of a sudden a harem of women are just really excited about Abdul’s penis. Like, please.

Early-2000s

Ad: “Cheerleader tackles football player”
Year: 2002

The spray = horny sex theme continues into the 2000s. Here, it’s presumed that the football player sprayed his jock body with Axe Body Spray. We have to believe that, because why else would this cheerleader break the rules and tackle him…? For sex, obviously!

Ad: “Mannequin”
Year: 2003

A woman sprays a mannequin with Axe Body Spray, and then gets turned on. Her jealous boyfriend beats the crap out of him, a mannequin. Realism!

Mid-2000s

Ad: “Spray More, Get More”
Year: 2006

Here’s where the ads become exceedingly demeaning to women. Apparently the spray leads women to become rapturous animals, who will stalk prey until they get what they desire. In this case, the male form! And intercourse!

Ad: “Click feat. Ben Affleck”
Year: 2006

Ben Affleck stars in this ad, which shows him walking around with a clicker to keep track of all the women who look at him. What a fun game. But his number is quite low compared to the dorky dude he bumps into, in the elevator. That’s because he’s wearing Axe! Axe = glances!

Ad: “Chocolate”
Year: 2008

So, Axe came out with a chocolate scent and decided to make an ad where a guy turns into chocolate after spraying himself. So, then chocolate man goes about his day, delighting women wherever he goes. One even bites off a piece of his chocolate butt. Not weird at all.

Early-2010s

Ad: “Bury your face”
Year: 2010

Axe hair products become more prominent at this point in the brand’s existence, so of course there were ads to match. In this one, the guy is wearing some sort of Axe hair product, which, of course, makes a neighbouring woman so overcome with feelings. She then simply must bend him over and thrust into his hair. She just wants to smell it! There’s no other manner in which to do such a thing!

Ad: “Clean Your Balls” feat. Jaime Pressly
Year: 2010

This is just a bad pun. Balls/balls or sports/testicles, get it? That’s the joke. Moving on.

Ad: “Axe Peephole experiment”
Year: 2013

This is a weird experiment that let men watch women through a peephole via an Axe app. So, yeah, that gives you an idea of the direct of the ads to come… mostly.

Ad: “Poor Guy”
Year: 2015

Last year, this ad was banned from the Superbowl. Basically, a homeless man is rifling through the trash, finds a can of Axe, sprays his penis and then a woman ravenously gives him a blowjob in front of a guy with a motorcycle.

And that brings us to the 2016 ad that has everyone talking … for good reasons.

Today

Ad: “Find Your Magic
Year: 2016

The brand has officially ditched its “Axe Effect” message. Now, men are being asked to “Find [Their] Magic”. Basically, you could be a man in heels, a dude with a big nose, a book smart dude or whatever, and as long as you “find your magic,” you’re good. As you can see, this bright and less-horny ad is leaps ahead of everything that came before it. And that’s worth talking about.