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Brief Published: 18 May 2017

Axe Tackles Toxic Masculinity

US deodorant brand Axe continues its mission to reframe masculinity for a more diverse world (see The Art of Rebranding) with its new Is It OK for Guys To? campaign.

The video shows scenarios based on typical male online searches, highlighting the fears some men have about sharing their anxieties openly. Questions include "Is it OK to not like sport?" and "Is it OK to be a virgin?"

The campaign was motivated by a statistic from gender justice organisation Promundo, which revealed 57% of men have been told how a 'real man' should behave. "We want guys to see there's no holds barred on what men can or cannot be," commented Rik Strubel, global vice-president of Axe. "We need to help more men by tackling toxic masculinity head on." In the era of Trump and the alt-right, toxic masculinity has become a key cultural issue.

In a further move, Axe's UK brand Lynx teamed up with Calm (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) to launch the Calm Photography Movement. Photographers were encouraged to upload images that, according to Simon Gunning, Calm's CEO, "tell stories about our experiences of masculinity, what it means to be a man, and how we can tackle that old stereotype of needing a stiff upper lip".

The winning pictures were displayed this week – Mental Health Week – at London's Getty Images Gallery. They were also curated into a catalogue available for purchase in support of Calm's work towards preventing male suicide.

For more on masculinity, diversity and inclusion, see Marketing to LGBTQ Consumers, Next-Gen Beauty Marketing, New Attitudes to Love & Sex and No Normal: Post-Diversity Marketing.