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What Makes Advertising Work? Essays

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The typical person living in a city is estimated to see more than 5,000 advertising messages each day. In order for a brand's message to capture attention amidst all that commotion, its advertising not only has to be clever and visually appealing, but also memorable and unique in its approach..

In an effort to reverse its well-earned reputation as a brand for misogynist men who hope to control women, Axe created a campaign aimed at showing the power women have over men. To that end, Axe and its agency, BBH New York, started by covertly planting seeds in the Internet for “a viral meme by the name of Susan Glenn." For its new advertising, Axe focused on and dramatized the idea of the girl who got away, and warned its young customers not to let it happen to them. Through Axe’s use of a mixture of truth, sexual appeal, modern storytelling across different media, and of course, a celebrity, the advertising company was able to present Axe as a brand that both understands and fixes the anxieties of its customers in the 15-21 year-old male demographic.

The creators widely distributed the Susan Glenn meme. On sites such as Tumblr, slang dictionaries, and message boards, Axe representatives promoted "Susan Glenn" as the “super attractive, cool woman” every man lusted after but never had the courage to ask out on a date. In the commercial, Susan is depicted as an otherworldly high-school girl who sent everyone she encountered into a daze. The ad itself takes Susan out of the real world by saying: "In [Susan’s] presence, all that was beautiful before she arrived turned grotesque. And in her shadow, others became goblin-esque. … In my mind, I was a peasant before a queen." There is no denying that attractive people draw the attenti...


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...and managers were able to sell their product to people all over, and as a result of such popularity, the message even reach people who would typically not purchase Axe’s products. The ad even sparked a Facebook page focused on identifying and finding the courage to connect with the Susan Glenn in your life. "'Susan Glenn' is more than a name, it's a timeless truth for every guy that has ever walked down a school hallway," said Matthew McCarthy, senior director of brand development for Axe, in a release. "Giving guys courage to reach out to their own 'Susan Glenn' is exactly what we strive to accomplish with this campaign, which remains true to the brand's essence." Through the Susan Glenn images and story, Axe was able to both promote its body spray as a symbol of how to achieve the unimaginable, and to create brand awareness outside its target demographic.





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