Unilever's Axe Makes Space For Launch During Super Bowl XLVII Campaign

By Barry Janoff

January 10, 2013: On Feb. 3, one NFL team will reach the ultimate heights by winning Super Bowl XLVII and raising the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Axe is using its Super Bowl campaign to take consumers even higher — to the limits of outer space.

The men's grooming division of Unilever is using its first foray into Super Bowl marketing as part of a broader multi-media campaign that, in the words of of the brand, "is going where only the elite few have gone before, giving fans the ultimate out-of-this-world experience: a trip to space."

To that end, Axe has launched the AXE Apollo Space Academy (AASA). And because the company is keen on how to fight underarm odors but not so experienced in space travel, Axe has brought in Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon, as spokesman and has partnered with Space Expedition Corp. (SEC) to make the effort a reality.

According to Axe, now through Feb. 3 — aka Super Bowl Sunday — people in the U.S. are being offered the opportunity to to compete against comsumers worldwide for one of 22 tickets "to travel to space on a flight with international space agency SXC. Under the auspices of CEO Michiel Mol, SXC operates the XCOR Aerospace’s Lynx reusable suborbital space plane, which beginning in 2014 is scheduled to take passengers "more than 100 kilometers into space, achieving astronaut status."

Tickets for SXC passengers begin at $95,000, according to the company.

Axe said that as part of the biggest product launch in its 30-year history, it is asking people around the world "to sign up for the AASA by creating an astronaut profile on and telling the world why they deserve to go to space."

The umbrella campaign includes the brand's first Super Bowl commercial, scheduled to air during the CBS broadcast of Super Bowl XLVII. Creative for the spot, "Lifeguard," has not been released, but the company said in a statement that includes "a twist at the end that aligns with a larger creative campaign scheduled for a January 2013 launch." Lead agency for the Super Bowl commercial is BBH London.

“The Axe Apollo launch is the biggest and most ambitious in the Axe brand’s 30-year history,” Tomas Marcenaro, global vp for Axe, said in a statement. “For the first time, we’re simultaneously launching one global competition in over 75 countries offering millions of people the opportunity to win the most epic prize on Earth. A trip to space — yes, actual space.”

In a launch spot for the campaign Aldrin — who was in Apollo 11 and in July 1969 stepped onto the Moon after Neil Armstrong — seeks to enlist people into the AASA program. That comes via entering a sweepstakes at a dedicated Web site and ultimately being selected for a three-day training course at the AXE Global Space Camp in Orlando, after which only a select few will be moved closer to a seat on the space-bound SEC vehicle. (Full details here.)

"We are offering millions of people the opportunity to win the most epic prize on Earth. A trip to space — yes, actual space.”

"Good afternoon, everyone, I'm Buzz Aldrin," he says as he stands behind a podium addressing an unseen audience. "Forty-four years ago I made a brave decision to journey into space. And it changed my life, forever. And now you, too, can become a member of this privileged group and experience everything that I have."

According to Aldrin, "The Axe Apollo Space Academy is looking for regular people like you to go into space. If selected, you will be sent to our space camp in Florida for rigorous astronaut training. The top recruited will then be rocketed into sub-orbit in an SXC (Space Expedition Corp.) space craft."

Finally comes the ultimate challenge from the former Moon man: "Are you ready to make history?" Aldrin asks. "Then join the Axe Apollo Space Academy. And leave a man and come back a hero." (See the full video here.)

The effort also includes social media destinations such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Thirty-second Super Bowl XLVII spots have averaged $3.8 million, per industry analysts, although CBS said this week that some spots have sold for $4 million. The cost of the overall AASA campaign was not divulged.

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