Look at an Old Spice commercial. Then look at an Axe commercial. Then back to Old Spice. Any questions?
As NewsFeed covered in this afternoon’s link roundup, the Deodorant Wars got their Battle of Bunker Hill this weekend, as skeezy purveyors of scented products Axe fired rhetorical shots the way of less-skeezy competitor Old Spice. The assault came in the form of a billboard smacking down Old Spice’s successful “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign: “For men who’d rather be with a woman than on a horse: Axe.”
Who will prevail in this battle of the bottled gels? NewsFeed could look at sales figures, earning reports, customer satisfaction surveys to forecast which company will have the better future. Or we could just do the easy thing and look at the optics: Whose commercials are funnier? Let’s look at the tape:
Text: Axe body spray has a powerful scent that attracts warrior women
Subtext: Using Axe will make hotties sleep with you
Tone: Protesting-too-much insistence that its customers are total studs
Tongue Placement: Hanging leeringly out of the mouth
Comparable magazine: Maxim
Text: Using Old Spice will cause your man to smell like a ridiculously good-looking man
Subtext: Masculine gender roles are ludicrous if taken to extremes, but are still worthy things to aspire to
Tone: Deadpan surrealism
Tongue Placement: In cheek
Comparable magazine: McSweeney’s, if McSweeney’s readers had worse taste
We know who we like in this contest. Old Spice commercials, though their charm has waned a little due to overexposure, are vibrant palate cleansers with charming wit and a refreshing sensibility. Axe, as befits its stereotyped image as the favored scent of obnoxious middle-schooler, seems content with automatic juvenile gainsaying: “Isaiah Mustafa is totally gay.” Though we have to admit, we can’t help but hope that the Deodorant Wars will prove to be long and fruitful: It’s been a while since we’ve seen a commercial smackdown with such a clear division between heroes and villains.