Behind the Scenes at Firmenich For the Creation of AXE Excite

“Behind the Scenes at Firmenich For the Creation of AXE Excite”video fits right into my How Many Hands Touch Your Bottle of Perfume series. Harry Fremont, Frank Voelkl, and Pierre Negrin, perfumers who work for a fragrance supplier Firmenich, explain how they created Axe and lead you into the lab. You can see the way the labs are organized and observe the lab technicians at work mixing the perfume oils. In the final scene, you will see that perfumes are tested on skin–the only way to properly understand how a blend develops.

It often comes as a surprise to many people that mass market products like Axe are created by the top perfumers in the field. As does the fact that the development of these scents is a careful, detail oriented process. While Axe body sprays may be cheap and ubiquitous, the process behind creating them is anything but. The Axe projects are among the most coveted for the perfumers, and when Negrin grins proudly mentioning the win, his emotion is genuine.  The big scope and diversity of Axe also mean that a perfumer can experiment with some unexpected accords like Voelkl does with his masculine coconut-caramel twist to make Excite. Not all mass market lines are willing to take risks, but Axe is big enough to push the boundary on occasion.

Thank you, Robin, for a link!

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13 Comments

  • kuri: How interesting! Had no idea that creating AXE products was so fun! I still hate their advertising, but I’m not their target 🙂 September 12, 2012 at 8:04am Reply

    • Victoria: Their fragrances are not what I would wear myself, but the work on the projects can be fun if the clients make it so. And when the stakes are high, there is a very different dynamic. September 12, 2012 at 3:21pm Reply

  • Barbara: This is a really cool video! Thanks for posting. Looking at all those little bottles in their labs made me curious what’s inside. September 12, 2012 at 9:00am Reply

    • Victoria: Seeing the lab is always fun. The bottles contain various raw materials. The camera moves too quickly for me to see what’s there exactly. September 12, 2012 at 3:29pm Reply

  • Nick: it’s only because they are so ubiquitous and in some cases so synthetic that people are disparaging about them.

    On occasion, they can be interesting and very counter the market.

    Although not Axe/Lynx (as it is in the UK), one of our drugstores here had an own brand bodyspray called Grasslands which smelt like nothing else in the mass market before or since, a really realistic cut grass, hay scent with earthy basenotes, that had great presence. I adored it. It did not smell like a household cleaning product/detergent/fabric softener. Unusual and addictive. September 12, 2012 at 9:46am Reply

    • Victoria: They definitely can be. I remember one Axe fragrance that was based on chili peppers, and the perfumers have done a whole range of tests on different chili peppers, analyzed their scent, etc. The result was very interesting, even though it was thoroughly commercial and very likable. September 12, 2012 at 3:43pm Reply

  • Lucas: Great video! I’ve seen similar one in BBC Perfume Series, they were also developing new Axe scent there September 12, 2012 at 10:34am Reply

    • Victoria: I seem to remember those too! Need to watch those again. September 12, 2012 at 3:47pm Reply

  • Kerrie: Much appreciated post. It is very interesting to learn about these processes and I am curious as to what makes various design houses feel justified to set ridiculously high prices on their creations (such as the latest Tom Ford Private Blend one) when even Axes scents are a careful, detail oriented process. September 12, 2012 at 2:24pm Reply

    • Victoria: It really depends on the distribution and marketing. Each brand makes an analysis and figures out which audience it wants to target. Sometimes the retailers make a calculation and set the price themselves, based on the estimated sales, appeal to their clientele, etc. If a brand is going to be featured at the luxury retailers (and we’re talking Tom Ford, by Kilian and the likes), they can definitely increase their prices without alienating the consumers. But of course, these considerations don’t have anything to do with the quality of perfume. September 12, 2012 at 4:15pm Reply

  • annemariec: I remember the treatment of Axe/Lynx products in that BBC documentary on perfume a few years ago, so I am not surprised to learn more about how highly prized an Axe/Lynx contract is and how good the fragrances can be. My son had an a Lynx body spray once that reminded me of Christian Dior’s Dune. It was great.

    Unfortunately many of the others seem pretty harsh to me so in a pre-emptive strike, I bought him 40 mls of Bulgari Black. He is too cool to say very much to me about it but he wears it every day. So I count that as a win.

    But – good heavens! Frank Voelkl is the guy who does a lot of stuff for uber-cool Le Labo, including my new love, Baie Rose 26, and he does AXE as well! I’m thrilled! Maybe I should get myself some Excite … September 12, 2012 at 4:59pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s like expensive skincare and inexpensive drugstore brands. The latter spend more money on R&D and usually have excellent bases, while the luxury lines focus on marketing, packaging and such. Which is why I never buy expensive perfumed body care. It’s not worth the money in most cases.
      BBW is another brand that has good quality perfumes (as hard as it might be to believe), although the style is very “young and trendy,” not something most perfumistas would go for. September 12, 2012 at 7:44pm Reply

      • Jennifer: I used to wear BBW’s Japanese Cherry Blossom pretty regularly.. I don’t have the body spray anymore, but I do break out the lotion every once in a while. Most of their scents are a bit too much on the sweet/fruity side for my taste, but I do like that one… at least if they haven’t changed it.. I haven’t been in one of the stores in a while.

        The video was fascinating.. I loved the shots of the lab with all those little bottles of raw materials. It would be so much fun to have so many things available to use. September 13, 2012 at 4:14am Reply

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