Axe Ad Campaign Featuring Sikh Model Spurs Xenophobic Outrage


SAN LEANDRO, United States: After a Gap ad campaign drew attention to hip young Sikhs with its photo of model Waris Ahluwalia being fondled by a non-Indian model, Axe body spray is now on the bandwagon as well, featuring a turbaned Sikh model kissing a woman on the New York City subway in its new campaign titled “Make Love Not War.”

“Sikh is the new black,” observed several Twitter users.

The “Make Love Not War” campaign was developed at Bartle Bogle Hegarty London by its deputy executive creative director, David Kolbusz.

Through a Web site (, a Twitter feed (#KissForPeace) and a Super Bowl commercial, Axe has been releasing images with a “peace” message — but after the ad with the Sikh model appeared, an alarming number of racists also chimed in on social media. Some commenters on Axe’s Facebook page call the model a “terrorist” and a “towelhead.”

Chiming in in a lengthy thread about the ad on Facebook, user Brandon Dewade put it this way: “Wow, there is a lot of hate here. Being an Iraq and Afghanistan vet all I see is a guy w/an epic beard kissing a beautiful girl.”

Other media watchers on Twitter wisely bemoan the fact that “peace” — as a concept — is being used to hawk a chemical-laden perfume spray.

Axe also has a presence in India, where Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor is its brand ambassador.
India-West’s e-mail to the ad agency was not returned by press time.