Anarchy or Peace

When watching Axe’s Peace fragrance Super Bowl advertisement one must ask what racialized and gendered messages it conveys. It makes reference to different eras of world conflict and that this fragrance has led to their resolution through romance. It attempts to glorify conflict by developing a message that even in the middle of conflict a small spark of love can rectify what is going on. The Axe Peace ad campaign plays on the stereotypes of certain areas of the world and although it may not make direct reference, there are uncanny resemblances between the scenes and real world events.

Axe Peace Advertisement

                The different settings of the Axe Peace advertisement resemble 4 separate times of major conflict in the world. Examples are: the war ravaged streets of a European city, what looks like Kim Il Sung Square in North Korea, rice fields of Vietnam and the palace of an Iranian prince. These resemblances are not by coincidence. The makers of the commercial placed these in for a reason in an attempt to implement diversity, but it was at the expense of reinforcing racial stereotypes. First of all the scene depicting World War Two contains two white, presumably German/Russian people, both Caucasian and one being of what Hitler described as his Aryan Race(blonde hair/blue eyes). The male exits a tank and the woman runs and embraces him. The setting assumedly North Korea, bears witness to a scene that is under a communist regime from the perspective of the leader, there is a lack of emotion being portrayed except a mild hand-hold at the end of the scene. Leading to the image that communist North Korea lacks emotion. The scene similar to the Vietnam War combines what looks like an American G.I. and a Vietnamese rice farmer, from a poor environment deep in the forest giving the image of the humble rice farmer. The man exits a helicopter loaded for battle and the man and woman embrace passionately. Lastly there is a scene believed to be some form of Arabic royalty, containing what appears to be an entourage of advisors and servants all characters are dressed in long robes and adorned with a lot of jewelry. The Arabian royal figure is holding what seems to be a bomb detonator. Thus enhancing the stigma of islamaphobia and how many perceive people of the Arabic culture as terrorists who blow things up. All of these scenes are enhancing stereotypes through racial messages of how contemporary society views these events.


Kim Il Sung Square, North Korea


Scene from commercial

                All 4 scenes contain what are recognized as potential stressful situations. But as the advertisement progresses it is evident that all characters are in love and romanticized events occur. The Europeans embrace on the tank when the male emerges, the North Korean leader appears to be proposing to his wife, the Man jumps out of the helicopter to kiss the Vietnamese woman and the Arabic leader sets off fireworks with the detonator. These events seem to be romanticizing war and touching on male fantasies of what they believe war would be like.

                If one looks at the gender roles of all the characters, the male is the dominant figure with the power, influence and weapons while the female seems to be submissive and in the background until they are wooed by their male counterpart. The Vietnamese and European women are both civilians caught up in a war. The Korean and Arabic women are the partners of a leader of some sort. Thus establishing the gendered roles of dominates male and the subordinate role of the female. The commercial is objectifying women as trophies for men to win with their romantic acts.


Axe is infamous for their unorthodox commercials that sexualize cologne. They market through expressing fantasies of the average male. Their target market being men ranging from 18-mid 30’s. In previous commercials Axe sexualizes cologne in the sense that if one were to use it that man would be irresistible to women. Axe Peace gives the image that chivalry works just as much as sexuality and that the man wearing axe peace will have a romantic experience of royalty.

                The advertisement for Axe peace exemplifies what should not be included in commercials. The racialized and gendered messages being conveyed are enhancing unhealthy stereotypes. It is prying scenes from past times of extreme global conflict and promoting the cologne with western ideas of how these events occurred.



5 thoughts on “Anarchy or Peace

  1. It is really disturbing how this commercial so quickly simplifies war. It ignores the systematic problems that play into war, and bases them on a more individualized level. If men wore axe and showed their women they loved them, there would be no problems in the world! This is so problematic for a variety of reasons. For one, it demonstrates that there is only one kind of love in the world and it is between men and women and only this love is strong enough to end war. Also, like you mentioned it plays into racial stereotypes which is very disturbing. Also, did they actually suggest that a cologne can end major problems and wars in world? WHAT THE HELL!!

  2. I really dislike this commerical for how it depicts the issues that have happened or are happening in this world. The commercial basically states that if men wore axe, the spray-on deodarant, then the world issues will come to an end. Indeed, love is something that can change many things, but it is not something that can easily change the concept of war in my opinion. Furthermore, this commerical stated a lot of gender and racial stereotypes. For example, I found it racist how there was a briefcase handcuffed to an individual with a red button inside. This was very stereotypical and in my opinion, extremely racist.

  3. Fantastic analysis! But, wow, this commercial really is something. It feels as if Axe attempted to “do well” by promoting peace with their ad, but unfortunately did so in a way that comes off offensive and just beyond unrealistic. They’ve essentially based the ad on a handful of distasteful stereotypes and disregarded/overlooked what the repercussions of doing so holds. Like you’ve written, I think that because Axe does target the male audience, all the men in this commercial have been put on the extremes of the gender spectrum (at the masculine side). All the men are basically characterized as a G.I. Joe and/or as someone with lots of power (political, military). Chances are, they did so based on a marketing purpose: “to give men what they fantasize” to be. However, it goes on this assumption that all men want to be the epitome of masculine and to get there, using Axe will bring you one step closer to this manly man persona).

  4. I had no idea how similar the imagery in the ad was to the actual war events! Wow, thank you for juxtaposing those pictures, that is really powerful. The saying “make love not war” sounds nice in theory and the way it was used in the 70’s rebellion was actually a useful tool but this commercial does nothing but exploit the dire situation of war and the emotions that go on with it. By using war examples that are only set in far-off lands, it really takes any blame off of Western white-dominant society. The only white soldiers shown are supposed to be peacekeepers and are not actually responsible for the situation around them, whereas the Korean and Middle Eastern leaders are. When you first watch the commercial, you see these political leader characters and anticipate violent acts of war to follow but then you are meant to be surprised when their actions are actually out of love. The surprise we as Western viewers feel by those “reveal” moments in this commercial say a lot about the stereotypes we have been cultured to believe.

  5. It’s a well known fact that Axe commercial’s are so ridiculous that they’re laughable, but this commercial crossed the line. Not only is it completely supporting Eastern stereotypes, but it uses them to try and sell their products! Completely low if you ask me. It’s almost as if Axe has now mastered how to offended multiple cultures with one commercial. Furthermore, to trivialize war, of all things is quite sickening. I hadn’t realized that they mimicked real events! Imagine how families of those who died in these events feel watching a commercial like this? And then to add on top of that the notion that if you find love it will solve these problems of war? Insulting!

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