Unsurprisingly, media critics have always had a tough time with Axe advertisements. Their overtly sexual nature and not-so-subtle caress of the male ego make it hard to believe that they’re selling body sprays and hair gels. But the commercial “Office Love,” just out on August 20th, takes Axe’s advertising to a whole new level. And that’s not a good thing.
“Office Love” tells the story of a head of hair and a pair of breasts that fall in love at the office. (Confused? Watch the clip below. Creepy, I know.) Essentially, the male and female characters are being denigrated to body parts on the premise that females notice “hair first” while males notice “breasts first.” This is a classic example of sexual objectification in which “the image shows only part of a sexualized person’s body.”
Not only is the hair first/breasts first statement hideously sexist — it’s plainly false for both parties involved. As this article from Jezebel describes, no scientific studies substantiate Axe’s claim: “Hair. It’s what girls see first.” As a matter of fact, Jezebel explains, the opposite is true: more men notice a woman’s hair before her breasts.
Obviously, there are a lot of problems here. This isn’t the first sexist ad Axe has released, and it likely won’t be the last. This article from Adweek succinctly explains, “In the Axe universe, people aren’t greater than the sum of their parts — they are their parts. So, you’d better make them look and smell desirable.” At the end of the day, it’s all a great big marketing tactic, with women and men both paying the price.
Hailey Magee is a Women’s and Gender Studies and Politics double major at Brandeis University. Her foremost interests include media literacy and empowerment of young girls. Hailey hopes to one day pursue a career in the political arena and become an advocate for gender equality.