if you rewind the Axe ad reel, you can see just how culturally in tune it is today--and how important it is for Axe to stay vigilant. Axe ads from the early '90s were James Bond knockoffs: a grown man in some steamy, exotic locale would drop his sunglasses, a woman would pick them up, and--helloooo--catch a lusty whiff of his chest. "We talked to some of the more progressive kids and they were laughing at Axe," says Emma Cookson, chairman of BBH in New York, the agency that took over Axe in 1995. "So we said, 'You have to stop saying it's a magic potion, like a fine fragrance that just totally transforms the moment. Don't take yourself so seriously.' "3. Animal fight club.
BBH reformulated the pitch: It became (wink, wink) a magic potion that (nudge, nudge) totally transforms the moment. And that laid the groundwork for today's metamorphosis, with ads so cartoonish that guys and girls are expected to enjoy them together. "Axe is deliberately not telling the truth, so they're being truthful about being untruthful. And there's an honesty there that this generation really relates to," says psychologist Kit Yarrow, who studied teen purchases for her book Gen Buy.
4. The director of Taken 2 calls himself Olivier Megaton.
5. Amazon has the impossible to find at retail ARC Trooper Commander (from the Genndy Tartakovsky series) and Starkiller (from Force Unleashed) action figures in stock. (Without scalper's markup.)