Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Feminist and Psychoanalytical Analysis of Axe Commercial

For this assignment, I chose to view a commercial for Axe body spray. I feel that Axe commercials are notorious for objectifying women and making men think that all they need to be successful is Axe cologne. Because of this, I have chosen to look at the commercial through a feminist lens and a psycho lens.

Feminist Lens:

In this commercial, women are viewed only as an object for a man to acquire; she exists only to please men and her sole purpose in life is to find a man. She feels the urge to have a man to the extent that she literally will hunt him down. This is seen in the body spray commercial where thousands of women are running across land and sea to get to the one man who is spraying himself with Axe. The commercial depicts the woman as barefoot, bounding over wilderness, and having a crazy look in her eyes. All of this works to liken her to a wild animal in search of her prey, a man. The wild animal analogy is extended even more when more women are seen running in the same direction, all stampeding towards the same man. The commercial ends with thousands of women closing in on the one man, who puts his arms in the air triumphantly and smiles. In this way, the commercial portrays women as an object. Her only desire in life is to have a man – preferably one wearing Axe – just as the only desire of a wild animal is to hunt. Thus, in this commercial, women are viewed only in relation to men. Their only purpose in life is to make men happy. This can be seen even in the way women are dressed in the commercial. All the women are wearing string bikinis, showcasing their narrow waists and full, bouncing chests. This makes the women in the commercial objects for men to look at and desire, especially those men who see the commercial.

Psychoanalytic lens:

This commercial’s main tactic for selling Axe body spray is to play to the desires of the audience: young men. It gets the audience’s attention right away with a shot of a scantily-clad beautiful young woman running through the forest. The dramatic music and rapid camera angles and movements raise the audience’s curiosity. The audience’s desire rises as more and more beautiful and scantily-clad women are shown running in slow motion towards some unknown object, playing to the fantasies of many young men. When the focus of all of the women is finally revealed, a young man dousing himself with Axe, the message of the commercial becomes evident: use Axe and thousands of young, beautiful women will find you attractive and want you. One interesting thing to note about the commercial is that all of the women fit the description of an Americanized “ideal” woman: long flowing hair, large breasts, sculpted, thin body, and tanned skin. However, the young man is simply average looking. All of this works to play into the desires of the audience even more. Young men everywhere can identify with the average-looking man, they can see themselves in him. Thus, the message of the commercial becomes, if the average young men in the audience use Axe, the young women that they fantasize about will want them. 

Teaching Activity

In order to teach students about the feminist and psychoanalytical lens, I would show students the Axe clip I analyzed and also this clip for Yoplait yogurt

Then, I would have them answer and discuss the following questions:
1. Who do you think the audience for each commercial is?
2. How are women portrayed in the Axe commercial? How are men portrayed?
3. How are women portrayed in the Yoplait commercial? How are men portrayed?
4. What desires of its audience does the Axe commercial use to sell its product?
5. What desires of its audience does the Yoplait commercial use to sell its product?
6. How are relationships between men and women portrayed in each commercial?

In this activity, my goal is for my students to look at each clip and see how differently men and women are portrayed: in the Axe commercial, women are sexualized objects for men whereas in the Yoplait commercial, the woman is intelligent and in control (and losing weight!) while the man ends up looking stupid. I feel that in many commercials today, these are the two dominant portrayals of men and women. In commercials aimed at men that sell clothes, food, cars, etc., women are highly sexualized. In commercials aimed at women that sell household products, make-up, etc., women are portrayed as in control and extremely intelligent while their husbands are clueless and bumbling in the background. Both of these portrayals play into the desires of the intended audience in order to sell the product. Overall, I want students to see how skewed portrayals of both men and women can be used to sell products to certain audiences.

1 comment:

  1. i m a PG viscom student frm Chennai, Loyola! dz gives a brief obt d Axe ad alone.. can u generalise d over all trend of ads n exsisting ad in town..?