Is it risky for gender-specific brands to target the opposite sex? The Marketing Society Forum

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Unilever is crossing gender boundaries by adding limited-edition scent Anarchy to its Axe range.

NO - ALAN GILES, CHAIRMAN, FAT FACE

Fashion brands often subsequently launch a variant for the opposite sex - think Topshop and Topman. It's an obvious diversification strategy, leveraging the investment in awareness and brand equity. It is even more common to have gender-specific variants of the same fragrance brand.

What's riskier about Anarchy is the direct association with the Axe/Lynx brand, with its unapologetically laddish view of the world. Nonetheless, the unreconstructed heroes of the Axe/Lynx ads are portrayed in a firmly tongue-in-cheek manner, so I think Unilever will have a lot of goodwill to work with in its new target market. If not, there are always the laddettes.

MAYBE - NICOLA MENDELSOHN, CHAIRMAN AND PARTNER, KARMARAMA

As the old saying goes, men are from Mars and women are from Venus, so surely you can't have a male 'predatory' product appeal to a woman? Is there a risk of diluting the strength of the brand equity built around The Lynx Effect?

And yet I must confess to being rather excited and interested. As a mum of a 14-year-old girl, I'm curious to know what the insight is and what it adds to the very complicated world of young female courtship. (I remember it being a little less straightforward than the boys' view).

If Unilever and Bartle Bogle Hegarty can demonstrate the benefit for girls in a way that stays true to the original brand, they may have themselves a winner.

YES - ZAID AL ZAIDY, CHIEF STRATEGIC OFFICER, TBWA

Brands selling to both sexes are prolific in the his-and-hers world of fine fragrance. Chanel's male perfumery business is significant, not because men are stuck in 90s 'metrosexuality', but because Chanel stands for something bigger than femininity.

I don't think this is what's happening with Axe. Judging from the YouTube teaser, the Anarchy campaign won't follow the old geeky-guy-gets-impossibly-fit-girl formula. The protagonists seem to be on an equal level, which is modern and gives the campaign broader social appeal.

Anarchy isn't a change of brand strategy. It's part of a bigger story designed to maximise share of culture and, crucially, shelf.

MAYBE - SUSIE HEWSON, SALES AND MARKETING DIRECTOR, BODYWISE (UK)

The trend is definitely toward gender-neutral, but can Lynx rival the branding of CK or D&G? Challenges of cliches are growing in popularity, but Lynx may be too much of 'the guy who thinks he's sexier than he is' for the sophisticated female self-image.

The Lynx effect of 'getting angels to fall' might be too much of a male fantasy to break across the female divide. It could be their Jack and Jill moment, or perhaps their taming of the Eau Savage.

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