Axe’s shower thoughts ad has angered Reddit

Here’s a shower thought: Does anyone own shower thoughts? Axe body spray is being criticized on Reddit today because users there think the company has plagiarized their site, where there is an entire subreddit devoted to shower thoughts.

Axe’s new campaign fittingly picks up the shower motif, and the first installment features this bit of wisdom: “If you’re criticized for being short, they’re really just saying the worst thing about you is that there isn’t more of you.”

Then the commercial goes on to show famed basketball short man Mugsy Bogues schooling people on the court. The campaign launched late last month, and was produced by Defy Media and Mindshare Entertainment.

“Axe is jacking our shower thoughts and not giving credit. Literally word for word,” a user posted to Reddit with a link to the YouTube video. It reached near the top of Reddit’s Front Page, where posts with the most votes rise from across the site’s thousands of subreddits. Indeed the language in the ad is remarkably similar to this shower thought posted to Reddit seven months ago.

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On YouTube, the commercial has about 250 positive thumbs up and 4,750 thumbs down. The YouTube comments are equally negative. “Wtf I used to use AXE before but now theyre ripping off other people without giving credit. Shit move axe,” one YouTube commenter said.

The Reddit post is bringing out plenty of detractors, criticizing Axe, but there are defenders, too. “I’m pretty sure none of these are original anyway,” one comment says, referring to the fact that so many of the top “shower thoughts” are recycled internet classics.

Others pointed out the irony that many on Reddit are strong advocates of the open web, breaking down barriers to content and defanging intellectual property ownership rules online. But heaven forfend a well-trodden cliché gets used from an anonymous forum in one ad!

“Funny that. Reddit tends to be a hotbed of ‘screw copyrights, everything should be public domain!’ and yet the same users get furious if they see content linked to reddit (linked, not created by) on other social media sites. Hell most of the /r/showerthoughts are just observations I’ve seen in comment threads elsewhere on reddit,” another Reddit commenter said.

Axe could not immediately be reached for comment.

Axe is just the latest brand to meet a swarm of criticism on Reddit, which has been trying to prove it can be a friendly place for marketers as it tries to grow its ad business. However, advertisers are typically wary of posting to the site, because of just these types of backlashes.

Imgur, an image-hosting community affiliated with Reddit, has worked brands like Old Spice to develop ads that fit into the tone of the site by incorporating the themes that users gravitate toward.

Shower thoughts fit into that genre of online culture.

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