Super Bowl Ad Watch: Axe Challenges Red Bull With Space Mission


Axe has made its reputation with edgy advertising that makes no bones about why it believes young men should use it — to attract women to them as if they’re sexually magnetized.

Now, the Unilever brand is pushing the envelope just a bit more in two ways: entering the Super Bowl advertising derby, and launching a Red Bull-esque promotion in which it promises to send 22 people just to the edge of space, with the tagline: “Leave a man, come back a hero.”

The Super Bowl ad doesn’t seem like such a big deal in comparison, but it will be for Axe. The brand will be airing a 30-second TV ad during the Super Bowl titled “Lifeguard” which, according to a press release, “includes a twist at the end” that aligns with a larger creative campaign scheduled for launch this month.

That other creative campaign — which Gaston Vaneri, Axe brand director, promised would take the brand “to new heights” — involves what it’s calling the Axe Apollo Space Academy. The brand’s new online contest promises to send winners to the edge of space and back aboard a private craft: a Lynx space plane built by the U.S. company XCOR Aerospace and operated by the tourism firm Space Expedition Curacao.[more]

At a normal ticket price of $95,000, the plane is set to begin passenger flights in 2014. Winners of the Axe contest must write about why they should be chosen to fly, while others online will vote on the entries, and must attend a three-day training course. The deadline is Super Bowl Sunday, February 3.

“Space travel for everyone is the next frontier in the human experience,” Buzz Aldrin, member of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission to the moon and the world’s second moonwalker, after the late Neil Armstrong, said in a statement, according to Axe. “I’m thrilled that Axe is giving the young people of today such an extraordinary opportunity to experience some of what I’ve encountered in space.”

Whoever saw Aldrin in his stint on Dancing With the Stars a few years ago knows that he is, er, still out there a bit himself. He seems like the ideal spokesman for a promotion through which Axe apparently hopes to generate some of the kind of buzz that Red Bull created last year when it financed a jump by daredevil Felix Baumgartner at 700 mph from a balloon at the edge of space.

As long as Aldrin isn’t actually flying the plane, Axe voyageurs should be OK.


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