Ditch the Label

New AXE Ad Addresses the Controversial Gender Role Debate About Masculinity

On the heels of the #RompHIM movement that took social media by storm, AXE released its new “Is it OK for Guys?” ad to encourage people to rethink what defines masculinity.

The newest commercial from the popular men’s grooming brand urges men to embrace a more enlightened version of masculinity by aiming to “create a society where there is no wrong way to be a man.” The brand will also be partnering with Ditch the Label, an anti-bullying organization, to launch a new digital network in support of men who are battling with “toxic masculinity” – the cultural ideal of manliness where feminine traits are the means by which your status as a “man” can be taken away (The Good Men Project). The company understands that the societal view of hypermasculinity challenges it consumers’ ability to be themselves by monitoring their expression of masculinity based on race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, and gender identity; even more so, they realize that times are changing.

“What we’re seeing now is that society has changed and marketing has to change. It was time for the brand to move on.”

-       Rik Strubel, The Global Vice President for AXE

The “Is it OK for Guys?” ad comes directly after the company’s 2016 “Find Your Magic” ad that highlighted a vogue-ing dancer and showed two men sharing a flirtatious glance to “deconstruct outdated views of masculinity” (view here). The new commercial kicks off AXE’s Find Your Magic Initiative and is partly based on a study conducted by their research partner, Promundo, that examined what many real-life men were searching on Google.

“We know that young guys are struggling with their own masculinity, but what their research uncovered was truly eye-opening.”

-       Rik Strubel

The clip highlights a few of the tough questions that a lot of men struggle with privately. Many identity-based questions (“Is it okay to not like sports? Is it ok to be a virgin? To experiment with other guys? Is it okay for guys to wear pink?”) are heard in voiceover and the impact of the attached societal expectations are shown. What is most interesting is that the questions shown in the ad aren’t made up, indicated by the numerous autofill options presented by Google when typing “is it okay for guys” yourself (try it!). The message that should be taken away from the commercial is that your gender identity does not and should never depend on nor determine who you are, what you like, or what you wear.


Check out AXE’s new “Is it OK for Guys” ad:

"#Isitokforguys to be emotional?" "Wear makeup?" "Not like sports?" If thousands of guys have searched the web for answers, a million have thought it. It's time to stop questioning what defines masculinity, because there's no one way to be "a man." Just be you. #FindYourMagic.