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October 9, 2007

Contact: Josh Golin (617-896-9369; josh<at>

For Immediate Release


CCFC to Unilever:  Ax the Axe Campaign if You Care about “Real Beauty”

BOSTON -- Citing the hypocrisy inherent in Unilever’s marketing Dove products by promoting “Real Beauty” for girls while simultaneously advertising Axe Body Spray by degrading them, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) has launched a letter-writing campaign to Unilever demanding that they end their Axe advertising. 

“Even as Unilever basks in praise for its Dove Real Beauty campaign, they are profiting from Axe marketing that blatantly objectifies and degrades young women,” said CCFC’s director and co-founder, Dr. Susan Linn. 

The Dove Real Beauty Campaign has garnered praise for challenging the standards of the beauty industry.  The campaign includes teaching materials that purport to help girls deconstruct media and marketing messages.  Last week, Unilever released Onslaught, a video examining disturbing images of women in beauty-industry advertising before ending with the message, “Talk to your daughter before the beauty industry does.” 

Yet Unilver is the beauty industry.  It is the world’s second biggest advertiser and manufacturer of skin whiteners, diet drinks, cosmetics, and other beauty products.

The Axe male grooming line is marketed to boys on the Internet, through advertising in magazines with large youth readership such as Maxim, and on MTV where its sexist and degrading ads are seen by girls and boys of all ages.  On MySpace and other Internet sites, Axe is promoted by a highly sexualized female singing group, the Bom Chicka Wah Wahs, whose suggestive theme song and video is all about the how the Axe aroma causes women to lose control sexually (sample lyric: “If you have that aroma on, you can have our whole band.”)

“The Axe campaign proves that a corporation whose profits depend on the success of its marketing messages cannot also have a vested interest helping children resist them,” said Bob McCannon, co-president of the Action Coalition for Media Education. “Unilever’s Dove Real Beauty campaign is corporate marketing masquerading as media literacy and just one more way to get branded materials into schools before a captive audience of students.  Profit trumps aid to children.”

Added Linn, “The Axe campaign makes clear that any concerns Unilever has about girls’ wellbeing take a backseat to their desire to exploit stereotypes for profit.  With Axe, Unilever is creating the same toxic environment addressed by its Dove Campaign.  We hope that the creators of the Dove Real Beauty Campaign, and everyone else who cares about the wellbeing of girls, will join us in urging Unilever to end its Axe marketing.”



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