Friday, September 05, 2008

Axe: From Insight to Execution

A new campaign from Axe.

How this great commercial generated?

Enjoy my side of story.

Andi S. Boediman – Strategic Innovation Consultant

In a Friday afternoon, Shinta from Bubu called me.

What's up? Turns out we need to create digital campaign for Axe–the leading male deodorant. And we have to present all the solution on Monday morning. Goosshh! Always a deadline like that :)

On Saturday, the team, including me, Shinta and Agung–the Creative Director at Bubu sit together and review all the progress so far. We got the qualitative research, we have a few creative digital marketing solution, but we don't have the coherent BIG IDEA. Ouch, a creative idea without answering the direct big question will be a waste. It will be shooting to too many direction without aiming.

Then we have to go back to the drawing board. We start the brainstorming session, we ask questions, we challenge the solution. The execution idea didn't rings true without knowing the real problem. We see the Axe ad from all over the world and we ask WHY they come up with the solution. You know, women flocking to men. Hmmm, is this what we have in Indonesia? I don't think so. We are moslem country. And most of the user are regular male.

We look into the qualitative study based on loose interview with the target market. A pattern emerge from this interview. There is a vast difference between Indonesian male and caucasian male. Indonesian are shy, they don't have the courage to approach girls, even for just introduce themselves, not to mention asking a girl's name or getting their phone number. Aha, this is a real problem! How come you get the best girl if you don't have the confident to approach them? Could this be the MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION? The kind of question that really give a million dollar solution when you really answer them. Let's try to exercise the solution then.

Will Smith in The Hitch. This is the kind of guy that we are all dream about. Cool, smooth and really know what he is doing with girls around. Who else? The Game, a book about the secret world of pickup artist came to mind. The protagonist, Neil Strauss, is a journalist who enter this world of women seduction as 'Style' and became one of the most successful PUA (pickup artist). In this book, he shares his insight on getting a woman, from learning the pickup line, peacocking strategy, neghits and many other tips. Wouldn't it be cool if Axe can become the vehicle for guys to really know get around girls like that. This idea really cement our thought on approaching the problem.

Then we step into the next question. If Axe is the leading brand, how can the adoption is still quite small in Indonesia? What is really the problem? We look again at our target market behavior. Turns out that quite a lot of them don't buy the product themselves. They ask their mom to buy for them. And they don't admit that they use deodorant. They feel it's their problem, not others. It's common for women to use deodorant, not for men. Wow, what a shame! Then how we solve this problem?

When we see women, they have a ritual when they meet men. They use lipstick. That's why lipstick is a big category. Every woman use them. This is a big consumption. Can we turn deo becomes a consumption? Then it should become part of the ritual. What ritual do men have when meeting with women? They style their hair! Another BIG AHA! How about creating ritual, style your hair, spray your body and get the girl!

Working two looong night to prepare the strategic insight presentation. Bubu team fine tune the digital campaign to reflect this insight! Suddenly all the creative idea leads to one direction. Make Axe the vehicle for guys to get KNOWN to girls.

And on Monday morning, our full team heading to the client's presentation for idea pitching. It's a blast! From idea to execution is a matter of understanding a real problem and looking the right answer. In a matter of weeks, we got the project! Even though we have to pitch with all the big guys! Appointed as the digital marketing agency, our team at Bubu then work with all the stakeholder, the ad agency, the event organizer and the brand manager.

After a few looong meeting with all the agency and client, in the end, our crazy night becomes the leading strategic insight used even for the TV campaign and set the theme! WOW! I am so proud becomes the daddy of this insight along with the Bubu team!

Cheers to the Bubu team, cheers to the clients who really understand what we propose, and also cheers to the ad agency who did very well on adopting this idea as part of the group idea, expand them, twist them and executing this idea very well.

Looking into another story on strategic idea becomes great execution!

Keep inspired,

Andi S. Boediman


  1. congrats, a fresh, indonesian flavor and well executed campaign.

    however, i don't think the idea is new at all, this is clear if you watch all the other axe tvc's from other countries specially that has won awards

    it is always about how axe make men irresistible to women

    the big idea is the same but the approachs, storylines and executions are different.

    so don't take credit inventing the idea but i will pat your back well done for the rest.


  2. Thanks for the comment.

    Yes, the idea that Axe make men irresistible is global idea and not by us. And we definitely have to use the consistent big idea.

    Our contribution to the big idea is about UNDERSTANDING local culture, which not about woman flocking to men like the campaign in US & Europe, but about Indonesian male that is shy and they just need to know woman and hopefully to get their number.

    As a Strategic Planner, it's my job to find that insight. As part of a bigger team, I truly appreciate the agency that based on this insight, they create a very well executed campaign.

    And my hats off to the client since they green light such campaign that is different to the western counterpart with more Sex involved.

  3. We have a new approach on building the communication team. After all the agency pitch won by each agency, the client bring everybody on the table and present each solution. My team comes from the digital marketing agency, Beside us, there are the advertising agency, BBH Singapore as the coordinating communication strategy and execution, and there are also various representatives from brand activation team and also media specialist.

    After the presentation, there's a discussion among the team to pick the best approach based on both strategic and tactical ideas. And then out this ideas, BBH is responsible to bring everything becomes a coherent execution.

    Using this new method, everybody is involved in the process and the communication strategy becomes a collaborative effort. It needs a brave an insightful client to try this new model and the guts to execute the best ideas. And it needs an openness from everybody involved in the process since the best ideas comes from the discussion on the table, not from each agency.


    Andi S. Boediman
    Strategic Innovation Consultant

  4. Great stuff! Congrats!

    I'm a strategic planner with McCann Erickson Indonesia and I must say, this is one of the best pieces of insights and strategy I've seen in this country the past two and a half years that I've been here.

    In fact, we work on a lesser known cousin and competitor of Axe called Extreme (from Cussons) and a lot of insights here are common to ours.

    Will Smith in Hitch is a great example - we used him too. Another universal trend that fuels "rituals for men" is that women are expected to take hours to dress up whereas men should get ready in minutes. Therefore, their rituals are also ones that require less time - hair gel and body spray.

    Another observation (it's not really an insight) that could help you for Axe in the future is that men in Indonesia, like men in any country, always feel they are "second-choice" compared to the "cool" guy at school, university, office, club, etc. In other words, they think the hot chick or the girl they desire will always go and talk to the "dude" but not to them.

    However, you could tell such men that now, if they use Axe (Babe Magnet is the brand's positioning), the hot chick will ignore the "handsome, hot" man and come to them instead.

    Hope this helps. And maybe we should meet up. It would be great to share some knowledge on strategic planning and other disciplines.

    My email address is and my number is +62 81 3838 177 84. Please feel free to give me a call anytime.


  5. Wow, truly appreciate a compliment from a fellow practitioner.

    And thanks for sharing. Your input will enrich our understanding.

    Ok, I will email and contact you. Let's have a nice and inspirational conversation :)


    Andi S. Boediman

  6. Imilia Lekawati9:27 AM

    Saat ini saya sedang mengerjakan skripsi mengenai perbandingan iklan versi lokal dan versi asing. Saya mengambil studi kasus iklan AXE versi Asmirandah sebagai versi lokal dan iklan AXE versi Coin sebagai versi asing. Dari perbandingan tersebut saya ingin melihat mana iklan yang diminati oleh target market dan sejauh mana sikap target market terhadap brand AXE.

    Saat ini, saya sedang mencari data-data untuk memperkaya isi dari skripsi tersebut. Saat browsing di internet, beruntung sekali bisa menemukan blog Pak Andi yang membahas dengan lengkap tentang strategi serta eksekusi Axe. Melalui blog Pak Andi inilah akhirnya saya bisa mendapat banyak informasi berharga. Namun ada satu pertanyaan yang ingin saya tanyakan kepada Bapak, yaitu: Mengapa AXE memutuskan membuat iklan dengan versi lokal (Indonesia), padahal sebelumnya AXE selalu menggunakan iklan versi asing. Apa yang melatarbelakangi hal tersebut?

  7. Karena iklan versi asing tidak dapat menjawab relevansi dengan kebutuhan lokal. Ada perbedaan aspirasi antara masyarakat lokal dan barat. Perbedaan aspirasi ini merupakan pembeda antara brand awareness dan brand connection. Brand awareness akan tinggi dari tingginya recall akibat iklan bertubi-tubi, tetapi audience tidak membeli karena mereka merasa 'nggak gue banget'. Tetapi ketika terjadi connection antara aspirasi yang disampaikan oleh spirit brand, maka akan terjadi pembelian karena mereka merasa direpresentasi oleh si brand tersebut.

  8. albertus11:14 AM

    Halo mas andi..
    Ada yang saya mau tanyakan. Apakah mas Andi juga yang membuat iklan axe effect versi cetaknya?(yang ilustrasinya menampilkan seorang wanita memberi nomer hp lewat bantuan kartu remi/playing cards)

    Jika ia. Saya ingin bertanya tentang representasi wanita di print-ad itu. Mengapa modelnya yang ditampilkan adalah seorang wanita indo (kebule-bulean)? Mungkin ada alasan khusus?

    terima kasih sebelumnya..

    cheers.. :)

  9. Saya hanya terlibat di strategic insightnya saja. Seluruh eksekusi dilakukan oleh advertising agency.

    Jadi dalam hal pemilihan talent maupun storyboard saya tidak lagi terlibat.

  10. Dear Mas Andi S.Boediman..

    Halo Mas/Pak..
    Saya Albertus Krisna. Mahasiswa Ilmu Komunikasi tingkat akhir Universitas Moestopo.
    Sekarang saya sedang mengerjakan skripsi tentang iklan cetak Axe Effect. Dan sedang membutuhkan wawancara untuk memantapkan analisis saya.

    Pertanyaan saya, apakah Mas Andi bersedia membantu saya untuk wawancara mengenai strategic insight yang berhubungan dengan konsep kreatif kampanye iklan ini? Untuk pelaksanaan wawancaranya, apakah wawancara langsung atau lewat e-mail (Q&A), saya mengikuti keinginan Mas Andi saja...

    Terima kasih. Dan mohon bantuannya.. : )


    Albertus Krisna
    0813 1070 9454/ 021 947 967 45

  11. Great Blog..!!!! Keep Blogging.... :)