Friday, July 06, 2007

The Story of Bom Chika Wah Wah

photo courtesy of Jennifer the Intern

It's a simple sales pitch, really: Hey, dude, spray Axe deodorant all over your body, and you will become irresistible to beautiful young women. But what Russell Taylor, the Axe vice-president, proposed doing with that straightforward idea was ambitious. He wanted to turn it into a truly global marketing message, one that would work in all 75 countries where Unilever sells Axe. The solution that came back from advertising agency BBH was to invent a new phrase that guys would hear as an international expression of lust—a female wolf whistle heard 'round the world.

The moment of truth came on Feb. 27, 2006, at a high-pressure meeting in a spacious conference room at BBH's London offices. Flanked on one side by marketing materials hidden under plain brown paper and on the other by windows looking out over London's ultra hip Soho neighborhood, BBH account manager Barney Robinson pitched the strategy to Taylor and his Axe marketing team. Robinson, an Elvis Costello look-alike dressed all in black, paused when the phrase his team had invented appeared on a screen, and a woman's sexy voice snarled out of a loudspeaker: "Bom Chicka Wah Wah." She made a sound like an electric guitar from a 1970s funk band. Taylor laughed out loud. He was sold.



Blogger Niha said...

According to reliable sources of information (one of my elder brother's friend who is gay), in Spain (at least) where you can get successful with Axe is at gay clubs. I guess the whole thing came as a joke at first, but now it's the way to go.
Without knowing this, I couldn't stand Axe ads. They are so stupid and offensive to men... (Yes, I intended to write "men". Or isn't it offensive a campaign that considers you no more than a sex-guided creature?
I know this speech may sound a bit excessive, but my brother shares the basic idea. And just in case it had to be said, my brother likes women, as any heterosexual man does.)

1:17 AM  
Blogger Sly said...

The idea that BBH "invented" that phrase is ridiculous. It has been used for comic effect to represent porn background music for YEARS. Ryan Stiles has done the "bom chika wah wah" sound on Whose Line Is It Anyway about 25 times over the last decade.

Replace invented with stolen.

3:18 PM  

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