Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Axe hoax: a strike against mainstream media, a PR victory for Unilever

Earlier this week, reports were circulating about an Indian man who was suing Unilever, the maker of Axe body spray (reportedly sold under the name "Lynx" in some markets), because despite his faithful use of the product over seven years, he hadn't been able to secure a date.

In an article in Scotland's Daily Record, the complainant, Vaibhav Bedi, was reported to have based his case on the fact that "The company cheated me because in its advertisements, it says women will be attracted to you if you use Axe. I used it for seven years but no girl came to me."

The story goes on to say that Unilever had refused to comment on the case.

As it turns out, the lawsuit story is a hoax. Reported to have been initiated by the Faking News website, the story spread across the Internet and, somewhere along the way, began to be reported as true. I heard it reported on Winnipeg radio Monday morning as a true story, and was ready to write a blog post about how being the target of a lawsuit can actually be good PR -- but when I began to research it, quickly found it to be false.


There's some work to be done on the fact-checking at some "news" outlets in the wake of this story.

In the meantime, Unilever and its Axe/Lynx brand is the big PR winner; I'd love to see the numbers on unpaid media and blog mentions over the life of this story.

And on a different note...

Another little gem I found while checking into this story was the YouTube video below, outing Unilever's arguably hypocritical position on the objectification of the female body in advertising. I hadn't realized that Unilever was behind both Axe, whose ads are rife with images of scantily-clad women throwing themselves at men, and Dove, which has run a very successful (both from the marketing and PR perspectives) campaign, called the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, encouraging women's self-esteem. The video replaces the original media-images-which-cause-low-self-esteem-in-women-and-girls from the Dove campaign with images from Unilever's own Axe commercials.


  1. ha ha ha ha ha! Nice video! Good find!

  2. I wish it was true...frivolous lawsuits are among the most amusing of news stories.

  3. wow! great video! damn that axe and how good it smells, i now feel like a statistic liking it!

  4. I'm not a fan of Axe - I don't think it smells good. I do like that video, though - really clever!

  5. LOL maybe its not axe I like but the man who is wearing it... that might be more accurate ....