AXE: sexy and useful at Pitchfork 2011

Want to make your brand memorable? Be useful. AXE just showed me how at the 2011 Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago.

Most of us know about AXE, the provider of men’s body grooming products, from its slick and sexually provocative advertisements. AXE also uses music to build its brand (in a more thoughtful way), an example being as the AXE Mystery Concerts to promote its Music fragrance.

At the Pitchfork Music festival, AXE was not only a sponsor but provider of a playful yet highly practical AXE Excite Sky Lounge to promote the new AXE Excite line of body care products.

On the day I visited the tent (July 17), Pitchfork was a mass of sweaty bodies watching bands such as Odd Future on a scorching hot day. It didn’t take long before the water refill lines became unbearably long, and security guards took to cooling off the crowd by drenching people with water from the various Pitchfork stages.

The AXE tent was like a godsend.

Outside the tent, the so-called AXE girls handed out free samples of AXE Excite and invited passers-by into the tent to hang out. Whereas I find AXE advertisements usually juvenile and anything but sexy, the AXE girls at Pitchfork exuded plenty of good old-fashioned sex appeal that comes with simply being friendly and smiling – not quite Doris Day, mind you, but more engaging than in-your-face silly.

And the tent itself was a refreshing change of attitude for AXE, with a focus on, well, utility, as demonstrated by:

  • A cool misting as you walk into the small tent.
  • Free stations to charge your mobile phone (incredibly useful for those of us wearing down our phone batteries by tweeting, texting, etc., throughout the day).
  • Portable devices to relax with video games.
  • Shade. And plenty of it.

The tent was playful, too. You could have a photo taken of you with faux Angels Will Fall backdrops and download them later (or have the photo emailed to you).

Or you could just hang out and do nothing.

For all the money AXE must pour into its high-concept provocative ads, I am most impressed with the side of AXE I experienced at Pitchfork: useful.