When Axe made its initial push, I was in high school. I have this vivid memory, particularly through olfaction, of my friends flooding the locker room with the body spray after soccer practices, concocting an overwhelming chemical imbalance of sweat, season-old shinguards, and cologne. Therefore you must understand my hesitation when Lilit Skyped me that we had received a package of Phoenix Body Gel and the brand’s new Detailer Shower Tool, their “cool” alternative to shower rags and loofahs.
But I am always in for a change of pace, and I figured that there was the off-chance that Axe had revamped and gone for a less pungent tone.
Boy, oh boy, was I wrong.
I smelled as if I bathed in a vat of the body spray, yet felt no cleaner than before. I, for one, am self-conscious about smelling like the guy at the bar with a full frontal of chest hair. Or Ryan Sheckler. And when I step out of the shower and my wash room smells like a club in the meat packing district, I know that there’s no outfit that would convince someone otherwise.
And the Detailer scrubs like a handful of Saran wrap.
There isn’t much more to say about it. I hopped out of the shower, dried off, then jumped back in, this time using my previously-owned loofah. I stuck with the shower gel, though, as I had promised I would for a few days. And now I’m not sure whether or not I’ll ever smell decent again without the lingering effect of feeling as if I just walked off the dance floor.
I understand that with Old Spice’s recent resurgence and subsequent cult following of men who apparently want to smell like a handsome, physically fit black guy that Axe has an uphill battle to regain footing and reclaim the “most distinguishable smell” title. But Axe will forever hold that title. Since the late nineties it has been theirs. That’s not going to change anytime soon.
And without the clever advertising campaign of viral marketing, the brand war in a broader sense has already been lost. Axe will forever have its army of high school jocks and college frat boys and Jersey Shore cast members, but there is no chance of breaking that mold.
Old Spice was our grandfather’s aftershave, and with the current trend of returning to days of yore with barber shops and straight razors, men are salivating over old-fashioned…anything. And the window for redefining oneself as the soap of this new generation has closed. Brand loyalty has been decided, and Old Spice comes out the victor.
I’ll be throwing out my thrice-used shower gel and Detailer when I return to my apartment this evening. And when I shower, I imagine that I’ll be humming, “do do do doot doo do do dooot.”