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Edited by on January 10 2012 at 8:18 AM

Axe Body Spray – otherwise known as that pungent aroma that hits you like a ton of oddly-scented bricks whenever driving through Jersey, passing by a teenage boys’ locker room, or dropping it like it’s hot on a crowded dancefloor — was once only the domain of hormonally-raging young boys and men, but the times they are a-changin’. Axe introduces its first women’s scent today, the chaotically-themed Anarchy, perfect for the inevitable end of the world and/or beginning of a nation of questionably-smelling youth.

Axe to Release Anarchy on Men and Women: Scent Goes Unisex y

Though only 17% of men actually use body spray — most often in lieu of actually showering — Axe is by far the most popular choice, with a 74% share of the market; the majority of men prefer after shave (65%) or cologne (62%). On the other hand, 47% of women use body spray as compared to body lotion (59%), eau de parfum (43%) and eau de toilette (34%), so I guess it makes scents (*rimshot*) for Axe to target the fairer sex. However, can Axe appeal to women as it has so successfully appealed to men since 2002?

In the advertising campaign for Anachy, Axe attempts to level the playing field. As David Kolbusz, creative director of London-based ad agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty explains: “Before, an Axe commercial was always about a guy spraying himself and a girl being attracted, and Axe giving him an edge in the mating game, whereas now women also have something to spray on themselves, and consequently there’s more of an equilibrium between the sexes.”

Meanwhile, welcome to the 20th century, Axe.

As part of this new advertising strategy, there’s also more of an equilibrium between “the sexy.” According to Kolbusz, “Girls in Axe advertising will always be a little better-looking than the guys” but in the Anarchy ads the attractive gap is tightened “without the average guy feeling threatened.”

The latest commercial:

Axe is also introducing an interactive graphic novel through its Facebook where users can suggest plot twists and even be drawn into the action:

Marketing aside, the real question remains, will a girl really want to wear a scent traditionally associate with Guidos and pedos? That, of course, depends on what Anarchy smells like — thus Anarchy “for her”  is only being offered in a limited edition, with the possibility of permanence depending on sales.

However, sales among women might not be Axe’s biggest concern. David Vinjamuri, an adjunct professor of marketing at New York University made this astute observation:“The moment you start talking to girls, you lose credibility with teenage boys.” It’s nice to know that advertising is just like puberty…only more awkward. [NYT]

Story by Lester Brathwaite

I was center square from 1969 to 1978, during which I perfected the art of the zing as well as a crippling cocaine addiction. Bea Arthur was responsible for both. @LesFabian lester at fashionindie.com