If you’re just a huge sucker for nonsensical marketing stunts, Microsoft has the perfect Xbox schwag for you. Microsoft and Unilever are teaming up to offer a line of hygiene products targeted at GAMERS! That’s right, an Xbox-branded line of bathroom products, which is actually just a rebadge of the Lynx/Axe line of products, will be coming soon to store shelves.
For the unaware, this is basically Axe body wash and deodorant in a green and black Xbox-branded bottle. And yes, it will fetch a premium price. The items will be exclusive to Australia and New Zealand when they drop this July.
Now of course there’s a deeper conversation to be had here about the gendered nature of marketing and how the marketing departments of the world use tired stereotypes to sell products to certain demographics, but I just have to laugh at this nonsense. Axe/Lynx products already smell like Guy Fieri bathed in perfumed bacon grease, so there’s one reason not to touch this, but I just can’t imagine anyone actually being so enamored with the “gamer” label that they would buy this.
It’s pretty clear that the game here is to push a tired assumption about “gamer” identity and bathe it in a lather of toxic masculinity, and it’s pretty annoying to see. And yes, those of you screeching in response to the mere mention of toxic masculinity, the idea of marketing to male-focused stereotypes by reinforcing negative assumptions is a classic example of that trend. One could even expand further by looking into the inexorable linking of consumerism and gender identity to have a conversation about how Capitalism loves to use economics to reinforce social norms. But the point is, that Microsoft and the other companies that keep doing it don’t care.
Axe/Lynx products have pushed asinine sex appeal caricatures as their entire marketing stunt for years. And most of it is aimed at young boys and teens who are treated like they don’t know any better. Marrying this assumption to gaming can only be seen as infantilizing. It’s hard to conceive of how this could be defended, it’s just insulting to boys, men and gamers in general.
It’s pretty telling how difficult it is to even talk about this topic when one of the most non-controversial marketing messages of the year aimed at men, which was basically don’t be an asshole, became a meme among reactionary circles online. So it’s not really surprising that the kind of marketing moves that reinforce rather than challenge negative trends keep happening.
Just put the words “Gillette ad” into YouTube and see all the men freaking out over the mere acknowledgement of negative behaviors exhibited by other men to see what I’m talking about.
And yes, I do consider Xbox-branded consumer products to be a negative influence, they’re basically just an ad that you have to pay for. Even if they just sit on the shelf, they serve their purpose. Do we really need more brand awareness for this stuff? I would argue that’s a strong no.
As long as marketing firms keep pumping these insipid attempts at pandering, and as long as a certain subset of consumers continue to vehemently deny deeper problems, we’re going to get even more of this junk. Whether it’s Xbox-branded body wash or “chapstick for men“, it’s all really dumb.