Axe is a very popular brand of men's deodorant and shower products owned by Unilever.  I guarantee that you have seen their television advertisements at some point in time.  I choose to look at Axe because I think their marketing, however controversial, is absolutely genius.

Picture two men in a bar.  Man A is tall, dark, and handsome - the stereotypical "player" who can have any woman he wants.  Man B is skinny, untanned, and socially awkward - but in Axe commercials, he is the man who actually does get any woman he wants.  Man B is shown using Axe products either before or immediately after his encounter in the bar to keep his edge over the "player."

Think for a minute about the real world.  There are few men who actually fit (or think they fit) the persona of Man A.  However, every man has at one point in time imagined that he was Man B.  Why market to the "players" of the world when there aren't very many in the market to begin with?

Most men will admit (at least in private) that they wish they were Man A.  He is popular, typically successful, and always gets the girl.  By marketing their product as something that elevates even the geekiest to a level above Man A, Axe is speaking directly to the deepest unspoken fantasies of Man B.  It becomes a shortcut to popularity, success, and attractiveness.

Axe's product managers understand their customers and speak to them in very direct way.  If you ask your customer what they want, the ask for something similar to what they already have.  If you look at what they need to enjoy life, you'll rarely move beyond throw-away commodities.  If, instead, you understand your customer and target their unarticulated desires you have a hot product that is an impulse-buy because of the brand's unique voice, not the product's actual features.

Other brands have tried to piggyback on this idea, too.  Think about Tag Body Spray; their advertisements and other marketing efforts are nearly identical to those of Axe.  Colgate's Irish Spring has even started to target men in the same way, but use their "Irish heritage" to differentiate their products.  This is an example of using psychographics (the why behind actions) in marketing; psychographics are powerful tools that have made Axe very successful and will serve to strengthen any brand that wields them appropriately.