Axe, Bold as Yuck


As someone who once busked for a living, this New York Times article about corporate sponsorship for street musicians fills me with much wonder, and not a little bit of loathing–for The Man, for myself, for the 58-year-old street musician in question, and (above all?) for Neil Young:

Get a job!

To introduce a leather-scented deodorant called Axe Instinct, Axe sought out about 20 street musicians and college bands in several cities, using Craigslist, MySpace and other Web sites. In exchange for an estimated $1,000, Axe asked the musicians to put up "Axe Instinct" signs, offer free deodorant samples when they play and, a few times a day, sing a ditty "Look Good in Leather" that Axe is using in its commercials. The musicians' stints started in September and run through the end of the year.

"Our biggest thing is not about what they look like but the authenticity of them," said Jay E. Mathew Jr., marketing director for deodorants at Unilever USA. "We want people that, this is what they do every day."

Asked if it was authentic to have street performers singing a corporate jingle, Mr. Mathew said he thought it was. "The song itself is a song that was created in 2002 and not something we created for just the ad — it was an existing, organic type of music. We thought it fit perfectly with the campaign."

Mr. Ryan had once sworn never to sell out, after he watched a documentary where Neil Young said the same thing. "I said, 'Wow, that's a lot of integrity. That's me, too.' Then I realized two things. First is, Neil Young's a millionaire. And second, nobody's ever asked me. So as soon as they asked me, I said, 'Well, why not?'"

Cough up the bucks!

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  1. If you are trying to make a buck as a musician, how can anything be selling out?

    That said, Axe products strike me as a cruel joke perptrated on the young men of America.

    1. I agree. Real musicians would throw the pocket change back in the tourists faces.

  2. I don’t get it. Advertising deodorant by using people that stink?

  3. From the description, wouldn’t they get a better response at some sort of Leather Pride event or somthing? Maybe that’s next.

  4. Mr. Ryan had once sworn never to sell out….”.

    He didn’t sell out, he bought in….

  5. “Advertising deodorant by using people that stink?”

    The deodorant stinks worse.

    1. That is a true statement no matter what the comparison is. Dead corpses. Skunks. Durian fruit past its prime.

      One time my wife went in a gas station to pay for something and the idiot attendant pulled out a can of the spray and proceeded to coat himself while she was in line. She came out with an instant headache and we had to ride with the windows open for thirty miles.

      Nothing would ever prevail upon me to buy that stuff. It must be darn good advertising if it’s still on the market, since the stuff doesn’t sell on its own merits.

  6. Speaking of Axe,

    Did anyone ever see a psuedo-documentary called, I think, “Shameful Hookups throughout History”?

    It ‘documented’ several different men who’s hookups left them with feelings of shame and remorse. I think it was 30 minutes long, and it wasn’t until about minute 29 that the ‘cure’ for these feelings of shame and remorse were a long, hot shower followed by a generous application of Axe body spray.

    1. Is that last part how they show their shame, the outward manifestation of their catharsis?

  7. I love it! one more closet capitalist comes clean. Or at least smells a little better. Although Axe is way overpriced and actually smells gay to me.

    1. Although Axe is way overpriced and actually smells gay to me.

      No self-respecting gay man would wear Axe. It smells like someone set Lorenzo Lamas on fire. When a guy wearing Axe wafts into a room, everyone in the room knows, “There’s a guy who’s trying to get laid, but won’t.” It’s the olfactory equivalent of a ’92 Pontiac Sunbird. It’s the only cologne that would make a street-musician smell worse.

      I could go on…

      1. One of the best lines I’ve heard recently: “Axe. Smells like…virginity” (I heard it on Bob & Tom but it may not be original to them).

  8. Whatever happened to Cody Chesnutt? Because The Headphone Masterpiece is pretty good.

  9. I’m an Armani Code man myself.

    Soilent Green may be people but perfume is WHALE PUKE!

    1. Translation. My wife buys my cologne. And my shirts. (except for the few I smuggle home from that guy in Vegas)

      I tried to resist.


        Why yes, I did buy this for myself. Why do you ask?

  10. Don’t like the deodorant, but that is a cool advertising campaign.

  11. I’ve never trusted any man that I can smell. Perfume is just a cover-up for the decaying flesh of a zombie.

  12. I demand Congress investigate this hoax!

  13. They should pay the guy who screams on the corner to scribble an incoherent sign about their product.

  14. I personally prefer Spanish Cat Food Magic.

  15. Neu: how do you know they haven’t? I’ve seen plenty of hobo signs with markings on them that might, if you squint just right, spell out ‘AXE.’

  16. I’m confused, was this supposed to be a bad thing? Axe pays street musicians a fairly handy sum for a little street advertising. Maybe I’m missing something.

  17. I say good for this guy. I think I’ve seen some street performers around with little signs in the open guitar case and I think it’s super. Having to perform a corporate jingle is a little skeezy, but if he don’t mind I don’t mind.

  18. Somebody at Axe has been reading William Gibson. This sounds a lot like the guerrilla marketing in Pattern Recognition.

  19. As for the smell of Axe products, last I checked that’s a personal preference thing. All I know is it isn’t offensive to me, and my wife likes it. In my world, that matters a whole hell of a lot more than what some other guy thinks. In fact if some guy who would have otherwise been interested in me was put off by the smell, I’d consider that a substantial bonus.

  20. wait…why would a Libertarian have “not a little bit of loathing?for …and (above all?) for Neil Young” – because he’s a millionaire? Has Neil “sold out” just because he’s made a lot of money as a musician?

    1. Did you click on the bottom link?

  21. I have no problem with this. In fact, if Axe wants to pay me $1000 to walk around advertising their product, i’ll do it. The stuff does wash off at the end of the day.

    1. Maybe, but the damage it does is permanent.

  22. Mr. Ryan had once sworn never to sell out….”.

    This reminds me of a buddy who worked in a small owner-operated coffeeshop. One of the other employees was ranting about the “evils of capitalism” when the owner piped in, with complete sincerity, “Yeah, I’m no capitalist. . . “

  23. I never got the pure artist bullshit. If you choose a skill to make income and are asked to put that skill to work in exchange for consideration, then what the fuck is the problem? Do you stop like doing something because you are getting paid or does the validity of your work decrease because you following someones guidelines?

    Silly artistic snobs.

    1. Refusing to sell out is often used to disguise the fact that no one would pay them to do it in the first place.

  24. I’m surprised Axe went off-message on this one. Normally their tactic of “show really hot chicks crawling all over a guy who puts on Axe like feral cats” seems to work pretty well for them. Maybe enough guys wised up because they bought some Axe and it didn’t get them laid any more than Drakkar Noir would. You know who wears Drakkar? Xeones. But you probably already guessed that.

    1. Does he also spike his blowout and pop his collar?

    2. “show really hot chicks crawling all over a guy who puts on Axe like feral cats”

      I’ve never seen a feral cat apply cologne. Have a video?

      Something new hourly around here. Just keep refreshing the screen.

  25. Wrong as usual, Epi. My body naturally smells of fresh-baked blueberry muffins, and needs no odoriferous enhancement.

  26. Ska, he certainly does.

    My body naturally smells of fresh-baked blueberry muffins, and needs no odoriferous enhancement.

    Drakkar-drenched blueberry muffins. You’re not fooling anyone, X.

  27. Quit confusing me with Naga, Epi. We all know he uses the Drakkar as cougar-bait.

  28. $1000 for control of your set list and handing out free deodorant samples for 3 months? I don’t mind selling out, but I’d demand a much better money/dignity exchange ratio.

  29. Naga isn’t here to abuse, X, so it falls to you.

  30. Trust me, moth balls work better than Drakkar.

  31. Lamar uses mothballs to get with older women. Ooookayyy.

  32. Throw away Axe, replace with Penhaligon’s Blenheim Bouquet.

    1. Ugh, that stuff is like nuclear pine Glade.

      1. Endymion is quite nice, though.

  33. X, I think he’s saying that moth balls keep women away better than Drakkar, which I don’t believe. Prove it, Lamar.

  34. Why is the dude from Bloodsport playing street guitar?

    1. You were watch that between innings last night too?

  35. E, i like my interpretation better. Or i did until i remembered that my grandmother’s house reeks of mothballs. STAY AWAY FROM MY GRANNY, LAMAR

    1. Yeah, I meant I attract grannies with mothballs instead of Drakkar, though it’s a close call. You see, you gotta go with Drakkar Dynamik, and leave the Noir to the young kids in their 50s.

  36. Airtight Grannies 3: I saw it on Lamar’s shelf the other day.

  37. As someone who once busked for a living, this New York Times article about corporate sponsorship for street musicians fills me with much wonder…

    Misplaced modifier! Tsk tsk! The article is not the one who once busked for a living. “I” needs to come after “for a living.”

  38. I admit it – I like Drakkar. I think it’s a nostalgia thing – I’m an 80s girl.

  39. Has Nick Gillespie been confirmed as a viral marketer for Axe “instinct”?

  40. Doesn’t having stinky buskers fly their flag run counter to Axe’s TV advertising, which promises that one dash of the stuff will make you smell so good that dozens of smoking hot model/actresses will gangrape you?

    1. Aren’t libertarians against fraud?

  41. Axe.

    Just the name reminds me of bad 80’s metal bands, most of whom were closeted homosexuals that couldn’t deal with the fact that Morrissey wasn’t closeted and always found better guitar players. But if closeted homosexuals are the target market for the product then it makes sense.

    Might as well call the deodorant Manowar.

  42. If a guy has body odor, deodorant doesn’t really help. You still notice the horrible smell as soon as he starts sweating … which is often not the most opportune moment to be smelly.

    If your scent is repelling women, I recommend changing your diet. Find out whatever it is you are eating that makes you stink and stop eating it.
    Or else join a fetish site for women that like smelly guys.

  43. You want to advertise where the people are.
    Buying the busker is probably cheaper than the billboard behind the Busker.
    Could you get a permit to pass out samples in that location?

  44. As a 36-yr-old fairly hot cougar, I like a man who wears Drakkar. Makes me wanna bite him (gently, of course);)

    1. Cougars…bless their gently wrinkled hearts.

  45. As someone who once busked for a living, this New York Times article about corporate sponsorship for street musicians . . .

    The New York Times article used to make a living as a street musician?

  46. I think it’s a great idea – it’s good advertisement for the company AND it helps a busker. I think music stores should hire buskers to advertise their instruments. Home Depot should hire the ‘Saw Lady’ ( ) to advertise their store 🙂

  47. Matt didn’t even show up in person? No chance he’s going to get hit in the face with a chair. What a gyp.

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