Poor old AXA. Every time the French insurer has the misfortune of laying off vast swathes of its workforce the same old clichéd headlines roll out. AXA the axer – ever heard that one? And now, as the firm looks set to shed a further 500 head of staff, the same old headline is sure to be back in circulation.

But is it fair that AXA should be branded Axer? And what exactly is an axer anyway? Need something chopped? Call an axer! Has anyone ever said that? Probably not. Because, even if we sort-of know what it means‚ it isn’t really English is it?

In that sense, it’s a bit like AXA’s own weirdly lost-in-translation slogan Be Life Confident. Though, on reflection, perhaps even that mistranslated doggerel is an improvement on their 2002 effort, You Only Have to AXA – or the laboured hand-holding of 1999’s Go Ahead. Go Ahead with AXA.

Perhaps that blandly patronising injunction worked better in the original as: Allez-y. Allez plus loin avec AXA. Or maybe not.

No doubt the axer tag does AXA an undeserved disservice in seeming to suggest relish rather than regret in culling surplus staff during straitened times.

Which reminds us: Bankstone News’ Jamaican friend Alexa works for AXA in Alaska. We hope they didn’t axe her. Has she still got a job? We’ll have to aks her.

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