Axe was worried its market share would remain static unless it targeted untapped demographics, including urban black youth aged 18-25. The problem was that Axe hadn’t spoken to this segment for 5 years and even then, the urban black youth didn’t relate to the Axe communication. Axe needed to engage with this target group in a meaningful way without alienating current users. Axe realized that urban black youth didn’t identify with the Axe promise of ‘getting the girl’, because they were far more experienced. However, they would identify with getting the girl who everyone is afraid of approaching, the rich girl, aka the cheese-girl.
Axe decided to create a band called The Cheesegirls, who would release two songs. The first song trashed ghetto guys (known as Kasi). The second video paid tribute to Kasi guys because they have been wearing Axe and are therefore irresistible. The activation was focused on radio (a key channel for the target), used PR as the hook and then changed the traditional role of TV. The track was launched through the sponsorship of an annual DJ conference and on radio. Listeners were invited to vote for their favourite mixed Cheesegirl track from the DJ conference. The Cheesgirls were marketed as if they were a genuine pop sensation, getting interviews in music magazines and on TV. Axe was never linked to the band.
A PR set up saw the lead singer of the Cheesgirls ‘busted’ dating a Kasi guy. The band then organized ‘apology interviews’ which saw the band openly apologize and promise to re-write the lyrics for the infamous track 'Kasi No No'. The second track was then launched and played across 3 key stations, along with the music video which finally revealed the Axe link to The Cheesegirls.
As a result, the first rack received 504mins of free radio exposure over the first 8 weeks. Track 2 yielded 441 mins of free radio exposure over the 7 weeks. The campaign also smashed through the 10% share barrier target, one year ahead of schedule.