In efforts to promote the new Axe Detailer, the Axe brand (a men’s hair and skincare line) launched a controversial commercial campaign on Jan. 11, 2010. This 2:45 video titled “Clean Your Balls” is essentially a satire on a typical home shopping commercial in which a two attractive spokeswomen, Denese and Monica, educate men on the importance of keeping and maintaining clean “equipment.”
The commercial showcases suggestive scenes in which the women clean soccer balls, golf balls and tennis balls while reciting sexually-charged one liners that are meant to garner audience attention. The video concludes by flashing a telephone number (1-877-3AXE-BALL) across the screen like a traditional advertisement and adding the “Clean Your Balls” slogan.
This type of overtly evocative advertising has caused quite a stir among viewers. On the video hosting site, Mahalo, audiences have opinions across the board. One 15-year-old spectator expressed that she wished this type of commercial was available only on adult channels or after certain times at night so that people her age wouldn’t be exposed to something so “disgusting,” while another blogger posted that this type of humor was an excellent marketing tool because younger viewers would not understand the underlying sexual connotations involved. Is there a right answer? Does a public relations expert have a responsibility not to offend every viewer when promoting a product?
In my opinion this type of controversial advertising is pertinent in causing enough of a stir to garner significant attention from a large cross-section of the general public. While the Axe “Clean Your Balls” campaign is arguably offensive, its sex-sells mentality and adults-only subtext are exactly what this progressive brand needs to sell this “invention” that is no different than a loofah or a sponge.
What do you think? Is there an line that must not be crossed in the public relations arena … or are we free to publicize however we see fit?