The dating game & male identity

What teen boys say is rarely the same as what teen boys do. We got to the truth and shared it with energy and attention to detail...

The Game Of Attraction

Teenage years have always been rife with the challenges of self identity and finding the ‘real you’. But the challenges are now amplified – there are more accepted personas to consider; the rules of dating are evolving; and, of course, the prevalence of social media impacts on almost everything.

Unilever brand Axe (aka Lynx) launched its Find Your Magic position to reflect more diverse and nuanced takes on the game of attraction. But the brand needs to make sure that it can communicate this position in an authentic fashion, with genuine credibility.

Our Work Explored:

1. The modern game of attraction. What does 'the journey' look like; what are the codes of conduct?

2. Why individuality helps you 'win'. How do teen boys get to 'a thing'?

3. how do online and offline intersect in the world of dating (are new tensions being created)?

Methods & Markets

We conducted this project in China, India, Indonesia, South Africa, Argentina, the US, UK and Netherlands. Methods included:

+ Cultural understanding reports: exploring the per market discourse via diverse media, social, industry and academic sources

+ Mobile missions: deploying ‘citizen journalism’ principles with a carefully recruited sample

+ Ethnographic 360˚interviews: both with our lead participants, but also friends, partners, family etc for the rounded view

Crowd IRL immersion sessions: taking the Axe teams out to meet with the target audience (see more on the Crowd IRL method here)

New Tensions

In particular, the work revealed a spectrum of new ‘tensions’ that young guys are facing in these changing times, thus presenting potent opportunities for Axe’s creative agency to work with. Of particular focus: the intersection between the often prolonged online relationship and the abrupt reality of taking it into the real world.

Socialising The Findings

There was more. We wrapped things up by creating a rules of attraction handbook (incorporating carefully defined comms provocations), a set of themed films and an event for around 60 of the central Unilever team, dropping them slap-bang into the nitty gritty of teen male lives around the world.

Axe immersion sessions
Axe immersion sessions


Editorialising comms provocations
Editorialising comms provocations


Exploring local nuance
Exploring local nuance