Surprise Hits: The 'Axe effect' promises to attract women -- and sales dollars


Who would have thought that young men would finally buy into the idea that smelling good and engaging in proper grooming could attract the opposite sex?

The Axe brand of grooming products -- body spray, deodorant sticks, roll-ons, antiperspirants, aftershaves, shower gels, shampoo -- has capitalized on that novel idea since Unilever (UL), the British/Dutch consumer goods giant, introduced Axe in France in 1983. Axe got a tremendous boost in 2003 when Unilever launched it in the U.S. and Canada with slick, humorous, suggestive marketing that promised confidence and sex appeal to geeky men. Axe consumers would miraculously transform the "nice" women in their lives into "naughty" girls who would do your bidding: a supposed phenomenon Unilever called "The Axe Effect."