OFFENDER : Axe
CATEGORY OF OFFENSE : SelfAggrandizement
MEDIA TYPE : TV Commercial
OFFENSE DATE : 2019
This commercial is made by AXE, a body spray company. The theme of the commercial is to “make love, not war.”
The commercial consists of four stories. The first story shows us Middle-Eastern looking men with sunglasses moving with a menacing purpose to deliver a briefcase. The second story is a set in a World War II setting in a very run down European city torn apart by war. People are frantic and run around as a tank rolls into the city. The third story shows a communist Asian dictator overseeing a large rally in a square. Finally, the fourth story shows what looks like an aerial invasion into a rural Asian village.
We are led to believe that in each story, catastrophe will happen, but in the last moment, they are turned into a gesture of love. So let’s dissect each story carefully:
First Story – Vietnam War: Love at first fight?
Helicopters invade the rural countryside of Vietnam and an American White soldier disembarks and approaches a lone Vietnamese female. We expect violence but she initiates a passionate kiss. She submits from a position of weakness - at gunpoint. It is less a gesture of peace and perhaps more one of submission to protect herself and loved ones. It is the only interracial scene depicted throughout the ad.
Second Story – North Korea: Dictator with a heart
A stoic North Korean leader, a female, and his military commanders oversee a military assembly. We expect the start of a war, launching missiles, etc. Instead, the soldiers form a romantic portrait. Moved, the female holds the leader’s hand. No kiss.
Furthermore, in contrast to the American White solider, he shows no physical initiative, can barely manage a smile, and has to spend 2% of the nation’s gdp to hold hands. In other words, he’s the asexual man stereotype. The American soldier did practically nothing and got a passionate kiss from a stranger (who they were at war against).
Hilariously, this is a relatively good portrayal compared to most Asian male portrayals in western media. He is at least portrayed as a human being capable of love. Baby steps.
Third Story – Middle East: Setting the region aflame with fireworks…not missiles.
A group of security personnel carry a briefcase, ostensibly for launching missiles, into a conference room filled with military men, who look nervously as their leader pushes the red button. Joy and laughter fill the room as fireworks appear and the leader kisses his charmed wife’s hand.
Like the North Korean leader, this man also has to work exceptionally hard to prove his worth unlike the American White soldier who just bums a ride off a helicopter and drops onto farm land.
Fourth Story – European city under siege by warm fuzzies
A panzer tank patrols a war-torn European city while a lone white female stands her ground. The tank aims its gun at her and we expect violence. To her surprise, her lover emerges and they embrace.
Notice that like the American soldier, he also enjoys much more intimacy than both the North Korean and Middle Easterner leaders.
It does promote a good cause for its #KissForPeace campaign. However, only 1 out of the 4 stories involves any “kiss” for actual peace. That kiss is achieved by only the American white male GI who has a passionate kiss initiated by the Asian woman.
Interestingly, the gestures of affection decrease in passion as we move down American's scale of racial superiority: American White male (Intimate Kiss) → Eastern European White male (Passionate Hug) → Middle Eastern (Kiss on Hand) → Asian (Hand Squeeze).