Neil Hamburger’s Anti-AXE Art Contest That AXE Tried to Kill
Neil Hamburger writes a column for Vice Magazine, as do some other comedians, such as Rob Delaney. One of his more recent pieces pertained to AXE body spray, which you may know from its ubiquitous advertising featuring sexy ladies who will do anything for a shlub who smells like a frathouse medicine cabinet. Well, apparently AXE wasn’t so hot on the piece, which contained gems such as this:
AXE’s master chemist seems to be developing their various fragrances by dumping varying amounts of Hawaiian Punch and/or Country Time Lemonade into the trough-style urinals at Dodger Stadium during the top of the 9th inning—the end product an amalgam resulting from the capture and replication of the the resulting combination of odors.
So AXE, a major sponsor of Vice, apparently threatened to withhold their bro dollars unless the piece was scrubbed from the internet, and scrubbed it was. Vice removed it and any references to it from their website. But this is the internet, so nothing is truly ever gone.
The piece can be found in full here, and it looks like Neil Hamburger is still going to run the contest he laid out at the end of it: one that encourages people to create images combining sex offenders with AXE body spray.
The whole episode is a sad example of the downsides to how your comedy sausage is made on the internet now. “Branded content” is becoming a big business, with AXE at the forefront. From more obvious, dudes-and-babes ad projects such as the AXE Dirtcathalon starring Rob Riggle to more subtle sponsorship/product placement in existing, less-related content such as in CollegeHumor’s Full Benefits series, AXE controls the pursestrings for a lot of comedic content. As a major advertiser for Vice, they apparently have the power to kill content that hurts their brand, even if it wasn’t written as part of a specific ad deal.
But it’s nice to see Hamburger taking things into his own hands. With any luck, AXE will learn the valuable lesson that by trying to stamp out something that criticizes you, you only end up getting it more attention. Trying to censor people isn’t very chill, bros.