- Axe, the Unilever-owned brand of men's grooming products, renewed its #AXEpressYourself campaign for a second year to urge teenage boys to feel confident about their appearance. This time, Axe enlisted "Stranger Things" star Gaten Matarazzo to challenge teens to show off their hairstyles on social media, per an announcement.
- Axe will donate $1 to anti-bullying charity Ditch the Label for every hairstyle that teens share on social media using the #AXEpressYourself hashtag from May 15 through July 31. The brand this year is featuring its Axe Hair Paints, a washable styling product that comes in blue, green, red and silver.
- Matarazzo is promoting the challenge on his Instagram account and will make a live appearance with AxeMobile, the brand's mobile content studio and barbershop, at a Pittsburgh high school to help students get ready for the prom. Netflix's third season of "Stranger Things" drops July 4.
Axe in recent years has sought to shed the former image it had long cultivated as a product to boost the masculine image of young men. Its #AXEpressYourself campaign is part of a broader theme against combating "toxic masculinity" and its negative effects on young men. By working with Matarazzo, whose "Stranger Things" character provides comic relief on the science-fiction horror series, Axe aims to reach teenage boys on social media with a campaign that urges viral photo-sharing and supports an anti-bullying message. Matarazzo has 8.9 million followers on Instagram, and his post about Axe received nearly 375,000 likes in less than a day, pointing to how his star power can lend a hand to Axe in its efforts to reach young consumers like Matarazzo.
The #AXEpressYourself challenge aimed at teens follows the launch of Axe's "Find Your Magic" campaign targeting gamers on social media. The brand last week challenged men to show their best gaming skills in a social media contest that will award a free trip to VidCon, the online video conference in Anaheim, California. Axe is working with influencer and gamer Cizzorz on the social promotion that runs through May 23.
Tapping Matarazzo and Cizzorz allows Axe to experiment with influencer marketing, which has grown as brands try to reach younger audiences whose media consumption has shifted to mobile devices and social media from traditional channels like TV and print. Influencer marketing spend on Instagram, the most popular influencer platform, was forecast to surge 31% this year to $1.7 billion by Mediakix. While 39% of marketers reported finding the best influencers as their biggest challenge, 79% planned to dedicate a budget to influencer marketing this year, according to a survey by agency Relatable.
Like Axe, Busch beer, JetBlue, T.J. Maxx and the Calgary Stampede rodeo this year have run social media contests that have the power to go viral as fans share pictures or videos on Twitter and Instagram. Axe's parent company, Unilever, also is experimenting with new mobile ad formats. The CPG giant this month announced plans to test ads on audio streaming service Spotify that respond to listeners' verbal commands. By saying "Play now" when prompted by an Axe audio commercial, users can unlock a curated music playlist.