We got that AXE mouse pad thing sent to us Wednesday night, you might have seen it already since most ad blogs already published the picture last week. It The tardyness of telling us about it reminded me a bit of high school, where my petite size would make me be picked last for basketball. That same lack of height ensured that the opposing team never saw me coming. ;)
But I digress, there's an interesting rationale behind the Axe "feel her up" mouse pad, read inside for the thoughts behind this rather risque ambient ad.

Now, keep in mind that this campaign is running in Dubai of all places, being risque in the middle east isn't easy.

Sandeep tells us all about the idea in this Q&A session:
Q1: What made this marketing idea unique?
A: The Axe global strategy is ‘Playful Public Fantasies’. To bring it alive in the UAE and avoid censorship offline, we created a website, AxeFantasy.com. Now to launch a site this seductive to hot-blooded young guys, just a web banner campaign didn’t seem to do it enough justice. We focussed on the one place where they were a captive audience: Internet cafés. To make sure they visited the site immediately, we created the Axe Mmmousepad, which plays up on a popular male fantasy. The idea’s unique because it uses a conventional medium unconventionally to demonstrate the Axe Effect.

Q2: How did this marketing idea reach the specific target market?
A: Our target audience are young males (18-24) in the UAE, both local and expatriate. They’re into hip-hop music, nightclubs and MMS. They spend a reasonable amount of time in Internet cafés chatting and playing network
games. The Axe Mmmousepad was strategically placed in select Internet cafés across the UAE, to arouse their curiosity. After the target’s initial hesitation to put his hand up a skirt, he could not wipe the grin off his face while surfing the web later. The message hit home and it gave interactivity and whole new meaning.

Q3: What made your marketing solution relevant to the target market?
A: The task was to launch the indigenously-designed website, AxeFantasy.com, to Internet-savvy male youth in the UAE. The solution was to use a medium which cued fantasy instantly to a young male in an environment like an Internet café where he was receptive to the message.
Once he played around with the Axe Mmmousepad, he couldn’t help but visit AxeFantasy.com to explore some more fantasies.

Q4: What was the response to this innovative marketing idea?
A: Once the target put his hand into the skirt to look for the mouse, there was no turning back. He couldn’t wipe the grin off his face while surfing the web, just like the other guys around him. Understandably, many Mmmousepads ‘disappeared’, but AxeFantasy.com got 3000 plus unique visitors and 115,000 page views during the month-long launch campaign.
That’s the power of the Axe Effect.

Call me an old fogey, but when an idea doesn't match the proposition on the brief, it should be canned no matter how cute it is. From Lynx "Paid pipers revenge" ten years ago to that dang elevator ad, to current campaign the Axe/Lynx proposition has always been about magically attracting females - and that's it. What you later do with the females is only implied. Here is see no such magical attraction, nor promise of one - just some dudes hand up a skirt not currently on a female. And if that is his best fantasy, he does need some serious help in that department.
So if you ask me, this is totally off brief, and wouldn't fly in London.

A few of the previous AXE/Lynx ads and stunts mentioned here on adland:
Lowe Bull pulls Axe stunt in nightclubs - kidnaps men. Lynx spice up posters with Boris Vallejo pinup art, Axe dry - strange pits
Giant man ad in the grass, Axe whipped cream.

Notable AXE/LYNX Telly:

Lynx / Axe - Paid Piper Revenge - (1996) 0:60 (UK)
The first ad in this vein.

Axe – Metamorphosis

Axe - Ideal Woman

Axe - Elevator - Dog

Axe - Recycling

Current BBH campagn Shed your shame with axe

Agency: Lowe Dubai Art Director: Husen Baba Khan Copywriter: Sandeep Fernandes