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Why The "Old Spice Guy" Might Be The Perfect Branding Campaign

You might have seen a randomly bare chested and very good looking guy doing a bunch of short videos that look suspiciously like a funny commercial that has been on TV for months for Old Spice. Starting from a series of ads, over the last 48 hours the advertising team for Old Spice has created more than 200 short ads which are essentially video responses from the actor in the ads to comments and questions posted on Twitter. The real time nature of these videos has become huge online, driving millions of views of essentially what are branded ads and spreading the creative of the TV spots to a much wider audience online.

It is a good idea and the creative is funny, but there are several things that make this campaign stand out as a way to refresh the tired and sagging Old Spice brand. They come down to the basics of good marketing – from strategy to creative, but most importantly, the level of integration between television, online and social media in this campaign stands out. Unlike many other consumer goods campaigns that fall short when it comes to everyone collaborating, this is one of those few campaigns that seems like it was actually approached holistically by one team that didn't just chase the trend of the month, but used the platforms of TV, Twitter and YouTube primarily in the ways they were best suited. Here's a short summary with some key marketing lessons I will be taking away from this effort:

  • Smart Strategy – The marketing strategy behind this campaign is simple – show a great looking guy and tell women that he is "the man their man could smell like." Everyone knows that when it comes to bath products for guys, a huge purchaser is likely women – so instead of turning women into sex objects as Axe does to reach the single guys, Old Spice set their target as including and even speaking directly to women.
  • Creative Execution – The creative execution of the "Old Spice Man" using actor Isaiah Mustafa has been a hit, from his funny rapid paced TV spots and offered an instantly memorable pitch for Old Spice that people remembered and even mimicked. The campaign started with a strong creative execution that spoke directly to mostly women and while many men didn't quite "get" the commercial initially, it was all many women could talk about.
  • Cross Media Integration – Moving from a TV spot, the team at W&K behind this integrated social media in a way that is often lacking. Even with brands that have significant followings through one type of social media (such as Champion with over 100,000 Facebook fans and a great current campaign all around sportsmanship) are falling flat when it comes to translating that audience to a different platform and type of conversation (their Twitter page has only 45 members). For Old Spice, they are responding to tweets directly through videos, letting people create their own versions of the ad, engaging on Facebook and it is all paying off. As of the time of writing this post, their YouTube channel has nearly 7 million views, nearly 600,000 fans on Facebook and more than 70,000 followers on Twitter.
  • Personal Investment – This is a relatively intangible piece, but the advertising agency team behind this is clearly personally invested in the campaign. They love it, and are actively sharing their excitement about it. On the Interactive Creative Director Ian Tait's blog are photos of the line of employees waiting to meet the Old Spice Man and also a personal response to a negative tweet someone shared and more details about the team behind the campaign. While most consumers won't see this dialogue or probably even care, I happen to know as a fellow agency guy that when the team working on a project loves it – it comes through in the campaign.

13 thoughts on “Why The "Old Spice Guy" Might Be The Perfect Branding Campaign”

  1. There’s no doubt that this is an excellent campaign that has generated lots of attention. Not really sure how much of this attention is coming from people outside the industry. I remember everyone in the ad industry raved about the importance of Second Life while none of the college students I taught were using Second Life at all.

    My concern is how do they translate this great conversation into great action. I’m hearing lots of people talking about how cool the campaign is but then adding that they would never buy the product themselves. More then a few people have commented that Old Spice is “what my Dad wore.” They still have to overcome that issue.

    Maybe I’m an old ad/promotions guy, but now I’d like to see some experiential executions on the campaign. As I said in my post at they’ve done an excellent job creating the online conversation, but now it’s time to take it offline. It’s time to see if people are just talking about Old Spice or if they’re ready to actually use Old Spice.

  2. I have to agree with you on this one, Rohit. And there’s no way, in my mind, that level of exposure won’t lead to an increase in sales. Obviously Old Spice stuck with this theme because the new campaign is having a positive effect. I went from “my Dad used to wear that” to “this is my default guy gift”.


    It’s entirely possible that the *initial* social media campaign on Twitter reached mostly PR and marketing people. But then it went on YouTube. My mother is in her 60s and instead of TV at night, about half the week she watches YouTube. She’s the most non-“computer person” I know.

    I’m a great big techie nerd, sure. But I have family, friends and an audience that mostly is Not. If you followed the trend as it happened, that first day it was mostly “plugged-in” people. Some videos had only 300 views.

    But today? Some of those same videos have over 70k views. That makes me think that the same thing happened to other people – we shared it outside our social media circles.

  3. Hi Rohit,

    Whats your take on the Virgin Mobile ads we had in India during the T20? I think they were smart, focused & funny. Very memorable in the sense that they have recall value. I’m still not convinced about buying Virgin, but thats because of the network.

  4. I totally enjoyed watching this campaign unfold.

    I’ll never forget when I logged on to YouTube on noticed that every single one of the videos “currently being watched” was an Old Spice response. I was captivated, much like the rest of the world.

    Now, the real important question: what are they going to do next?


  5. Rohit:

    The Brandweek reference to the SymphonyIRI data is the only fact set I’ve seen on this, and it wasn’t good news. They say scanner data shows a -7% drop in sell-through for the YOY 52 weeks ending in mid-June (actual link is on my blog, but comes from Brandweek).

    If this data is true and the brand dropped 7 points during one of the world’s biggest viral whirlwind campaigns, this is a major disconnect between “buzz” and “marketing is supposed to sell stuff.”

    I posted on this at my blog ( and found the comments split between these two seemingly irreconcilable factions.


    I’m with the “marketing is supposed to sell stuff” crowd, myself. After 6 months of media, this should have moved the needle.

  6. David is right.

    Old Spice now needs to take this offline and capitalise on the buzz.

    This experiental activity should have been planned simulatanously.

    Shame it’s not a true integrated campaign.

  7. I’ve had another thought about this campaign that I’m going to write about on my blog as well. A few years back, I went to the Charmin bathroom in Tines Square. I thought that it was one of the best brand experiences I’ve been to and understand that it is the second largest “advertising” expenditure for Charmin, only network TV costs more. I use it in every presentation I give. But, more importantly, we now only use Charmin in our house. After all, how could I point it out as one of the best examples of a brand engaging people without being engaged myself.

    I’m wondering how many people in the ad industry have even tried Old Spice, let alone switched to Old Spice, because of this campaign. Sure, we can say that we’re to old to be part of the target audience, but shouldn’t we have at least gone to the local store and given it a sniff? I’m thinking that for all of the talk about engagement, even ad people haven’t been engaged with the product.

  8. I got to join in and be a part of this. I personally love the ads and all the Old Spice commercials and found this a very interesting and unique way to connect with customers. It reminded me on Burger Kins subservient chicken campaign they did a few years back. Love it!


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Rohit is the author of 9 books on trends, the future of business, building a more human brand with storytelling and how to create a more diverse and inclusive world.


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