by Daniel J. Flynn
Axe, the body spray for men, has sparked past controversy in its advertising by depicting women as latent sex maniacs awaiting the smell of its product to unleash their inner-nymphomaniac. The cologne company’s commercial at this year’s Super Bowl may unleash controversy of a more geopolitical sort.
The one-minute spot, which will be condensed into thirty seconds for the big game, features a Kim Jong-un character standing alongside a lady friend in front of a square of soldiers. In the “mass games” style associated with the Communist prison state, the assembled crowd lifts placards aloft that collectively display the strongman and his girlfriend inside of a heart. The pair hold hands.
The wishful “Make Love, Not War” advertisement for Axe’s new “Peace” body spray follows on the heels of Kim Jong-un’s August execution of his real-life girlfriend. Just three days after her arrest, singer Hyon Song Wol and a dozen others faced a firing squad for allegedly violating the country’s pornography laws by making a sex tape. Given the recent confirmation of Kim Jong-un’s marriage to a former rival of Hyon Song Wol who performed in the same musical troupe, the punishment was widely interpreted as a way for the new husband to leave the past in the past in an extremely permanent way.
But Axe’s Super Bowl spot portrays the North Korean dictator, along with a Middle Eastern leader and World War II and Vietnam-era soldiers, as a romantic willing to ditch war for love. Is this any more realistic than a body spray winning geeks a harem of supermodels depicted in past advertising campaigns? Like the devotees of Axe’s products, one can hope.
Jong-un’s slain sweetheart achieved success in North Korea with such pop hits as “Excellent Horse-Like Lady,” “I Love Pyongyang,” and “We Are Troops of the Party.”