‘Axe Effect’ Lawsuit Hoax Sweeps the Internet

obama_hilary_axeFile this under “too good to check.” The “Axe Effect,” a marketing construct that humorously taps into the fervent male hope that irresistible sexual magnetism can be purchased in a bottle, faces a court challenge from a luckless, clueless guy who makes us all feel better about ourselves. The story of Vaibhav Bedi’s quixotic crusade against the “Axe Effect” shot all over the internet and up the Digg charts, until it was shot down by

The story was full of absurd details that should have been a tip-off, from the plaintiff’s declaration that he “used (Axe) for 7 years, but no girl came to me,” to this gem:

Court officials in New Delhi have agreed to order forensic laboratory tests on dozens of his half-used (Axe) body washes, shampoos, anti-perspirants and hair gels.

Not only was the story too good to check, it was also tough to check. Every Google search just turned up pages of blogs linking to this one story, and my contacts in the India judicial system are few and far between.

As it happens, I have some history with Axe’s PR company. During the 2008 campaign, I made a joke about the “Axe Effect” being responsible for Barack Obama’s rising poll numbers with women. Axe’s PR folks saw it and sent me this at- the-time incendiary print ad featuring Hillary Clinton wearing an Obama button.

I reached out to them to comment on the story for Asylum, my other employer. They confirmed that the suit was a hoax, and pointed out a news parody that seems to have been the story’s genesis.

If there’s a takeaway to this story, beyond the need to offer potential mates something more than freedom from stench, it’s that with news, popular doesn’t always equal good.

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