Axe effect no more: Unilever drops sexist ad campaigns, will others follow suit?

Owner of the Axe brand of deodorants, Unilever has announced last week that these female archetypes will soon disappear from the scenes.

Ria Das
Jun 28, 2016 07:11 IST
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objectification of women

Cab company Ola is sorry for that ad, which triggered such social outrage, you remember the one?


Restaurant Nandos also had to run for cover, after a rather sexist ad surfaced -- A photo of a cooked chicken and the text: 'We don't mind if you touch our buns or breasts or even our thighs. Whatever you're into, enjoying any Nando's meal with your hands is always recommended.'

Yikes, what were they thinking?

But it just may be time for the industry to collectively press pause on sexist or misogynistic ads. Call it the triumph of fem-vertising or notch it down as a win for social media but, there seems to be some welcome news in the works.

But first, a look at something that 's really not tasteful

Sexist ads Is it fine to flash her bra at her Dad for Father's Day? (Picture Credit:

And reading this, we go WTF!


Sexist ads Sexist ads (Picture

These hot, hot ways to....! You know what

Sexist ads Sexist ads (Picture Credit:

Easy way to propose!!

Sexist ads Sexist ads (Picture Credit: By

We might see a little less of ... the above -- and yes, the Axe deodorant ads have always pushed the oomph factor to bring in the bucks, objectifying women for all it was worth, and have sometimes been downright sexist.


Exhibit A.

Axe sexist ad The 'Axe Effect': This ridiculous ad portraying women in an insulting manner (Picture Credit:

Is this soon a thing of the past?

Well, the world's second biggest advertiser and owner of the Axe brand of deodorants, Unilever has announced last week that these female archetypes (you know, the hot women who are forced to do anything to get male attention) will soon disappear from the scenes.

Yes, you heard it right! Unilever says it has decided to cut out all sexist stereotypes from its ads globally. The brand will have a new look, too, we learn.

"While older advertisements have cast women in pursuit of Axe men, a new Axe campaign — 'find your magic' — represents a world in which genuine connection beats conquest and will be launched in India too. It will portray the "modern, relevant, genuine world of attraction — the true magic that happens between two equals," Unilever EVP global marketing, Aline Santos said TOI.


This wasn't a spur of the moment or overnight thought. Two years of research went into making this campaign idea a reality, which eventually came to be known as #Unstereotype. During the course of the research, some very interesting facts also came about. Some of them include:

⦁ 90% women felt they were presented as sex symbols;

⦁ Most of the adverts present women in secondary or service roles, while only 3% women are portrayed in professional or managerial roles;

⦁ Almost 30% said adverts showed women as perceived by a man.

Also read: Breaking away from conventions: The new wave of bold commercials 

So will Unilever's decision be enough to turn the tide?

Well, we do know that ad agencies follow the money... and trends that they spot

Interestingly, comedian Vir Das makes the point -- what was that about a picture being worth a thousand words?

( With inputs from Sakshi Sirari)

Feature Image Credit:

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#Vir Das #sexist commercials #stereotypical advertising #Women in advertising #Unilever drops sexist ads