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Axe / O Romeo, Romeo, Romeo, Romeo…

by Contagious I/O

This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O, our customisable research platform featuring the world’s most innovative, creative and effective ad campaigns and marketing ideas

Deodorant uses programmatics to create 100,000 personalised versions of its ad

Unilever-owned Axe is taking personalisation to the next level using programmatics. Under the name Haus of Axe, the brand is releasing a series of short films in Brazil entitled Romeo Reboot. The shorts are a remake of the Shakespearean tragedy Romeo and Juliet, featuring four modern day romantics and directed by a selection of critically-acclaimed Brazilian filmmakers, including Oscar-nominated Daniel Rezende.

The content is being advertised using programmatic-powered trailers, which target four different audience segments based on factors such as musical tastes and previous brand purchases. Six of 11 scenes in the trailer can be personalised according to the viewer’s profile, resulting in a total of 100,000 possible permutations of the advert.

The customisation ranges from subtle changes such as the background music to more radical shifts in the plot line. While some versions show a man in an office, for example, others feature a night-time crime scene or a dystopian cyclops.

The campaign was created with research firm Box1824 and advertising agency CUBOCC, São Paulo.


Contagious Insight / 

Personalised viewing / Axe isn’t the first brand to experiment with personalised trailers. Netflix has long been championing similar tactics to get people to watch its content. While advertising the Kevin Spacey remake of House of Cards, for example, the on-demand service created ten different trailers, only showing users the one tailored to their watching habits. If you’d watched a host of different Spacey films, for instance, you’d be served a trailer featuring scenes with the man himself. Addicted to political dramas? Your trailer would have focussed on the complex White House wranglings within the show.

Axe’s use of programmatics takes this to the next level, creating a selection of adverts even more tailored to the viewer. It’s a curious way to find an audience for branded content, and also shows the potential creative executions for programmatics, a topic that’s often touted as harmful to the advertising industry’s ability to deliver powerful creative.

A programmatic plaster? / What’s more, the concept of a modern day Romeo fits neatly with Axe’s history of giving men the power to have women fall at their feet. But is having so many versions of the trailer really going to get people watching? Although it’s undoubtedly impressive to deliver such a vast array of executions, we fear all this fancy technology could still be standing in the way of creating truly great content. After all, a truly powerful piece of creative speaks to different people in a myriad of different ways, often all within a single advert (Exhibit A: Old Spice’s much-coveted ad). Axe’s experimentation begs interest, but is its content really be good enough for people to take notice? And, perhaps even more pressing, will the targeting be accurate enough to really work?


This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O. Contagious I/O is our bespoke trends, inspiration, insight and analysis service, providing daily innovative marketing intelligence across a comprehensive range of sectors to brands and agencies across the world. For more information about Contagious I/O contact