Unilever’s Axe enlists Lil Baby for anime-style video series

“I’ve always been a big fan of anime,” Lil Baby said in a statement. “So having Axe turn some of my intimate memories and thoughts into an animated mini-series is kind of surreal, and I hope fans enjoy it as much as I did.”

Other brands have tapped into the rising popularity of anime. Honda-owned Acura earlier this year created an anime series-based campaign focusing on the story of Japanese-American learning how to race cars. Last year, Last summer, Taco Bell released an anime-inspired ad for its nacho fries.

Axe already collaborated with Lil Baby on the July launch of “Whaxe Packs,” limited edition packs of deodorant sticks, body wash and toothbrushes, and the appeal to Gen Z consumers was clear, Gregory said.

The Lil Baby animated series will run alongside “New Axe Effect” work from Interpublic’s The Martin Agency that has run in recent years and draws liberally on animation, Gregory said. And it’s part of an effort by a brand – now 20 years old in the U.S. – to attract a new generation of male users, she said.

“We’re a recruiter brand,” Gregory said, so appeal to Gen Z is crucial. And that effort appears to be working, according to data from Numerator, which found Axe’s share in its core antiperspirant and deodorant category rose 0.4 percentage points to 14.8% for the 52 weeks ended July 24. Axe did lose some share in two of its lesser categories – body wash and hair care – according to Numerator, but picked up share in styling aids.

“Since we relaunched the brand, Axe is growing well,” Gregory said. “Brand talkability,” a measure of online conversation about the brand that’s particularly important in reaching a hard-to-reach Gen Z audience, is up over 113% since the re-brand last year, she said.


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