Axe Made a Product Scent Called Leather + Cookies, and Has a Weird Ad to Match

Germany's Dokyo combines odd smells with extremely nude behavior

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Way back in the 1970s, a team at Ogilvy came up with the timeless phrase “Two great tastes that taste great together.”

That classic bit of copywriting described the irresistible combination of chocolate and peanut butter in Reese’s cups. But it could apply to almost any two seemingly incongruous flavors, smells or other sensations, including … leather and cookies?

Since its 1984 debut, Axe has given the teenage boys of the world many classic bodywash and bodyspray scents, including Africa, Anti-Hangover and Denim. But this new product may be its oddest yet. The Unilever brand turned to German creative agency Dokyo to help promote the impossible combination of Leather + Cookies, and they did not disappoint.

This is, indeed, a real thing set to hit the European market this fall.

“The Axe guys came up with the product,” said Frank Berning, creative director on the campaign. “Then they asked us, ‘How can we communicate this stuff?'”

He couldn’t quite explain how the Axe team decided that leather and cookies compliment one another. But he compared the phenomenon to other mashups, adding, “There used to be only vanilla ice cream, and now we have Ben & Jerry’s. Why can’t that apply to fragrances?”

While Dokyo has worked with Axe (and Ben & Jerry’s) on many projects in the past, Berning admits his team was initially skeptical of Leather+ Cookies, as were the young men they surveyed while doing research for the project.

But they were also curious, and therein lay the campaign’s key insight. “They said, ‘I want to see whether the smell is good and whether it can keep up with the Axe promise,'” Berning told AdFreak. So the team decided to bypass traditional narratives in favor of variations on the “What will you do if it actually smells good?” challenge.

Before you ask, Leather + Cookies is only the first in a series dubbed Axe Collision. Berning confirmed that Dokyo will create a series of digital-only spots to promote the line. They will feature other examples of extreme behavior inspired by more crazy scent combinations designed to keep customers guessing.

To what lengths will these teenage boys go in looking for the perfect smell? We’re almost afraid to ask.

The ad begins airing in select European markets on Oct. 16.

Client: Axe
Campaign: “Leather + Cookies”

Agency: Dokyo
CEO: Julius Beckman
Creative Director: Frank Berning

Production Company: Tony Petersen Film
Director: Claas Ortmann
Director of Photography: Kasper Wind

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.