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July 22, 2010


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No way, dude! Old Spice is totally classic. I've worn it exclusively since I was in junior high. In fact, all the men in my family wear it exclusively and so does my boyfriend.

A crisp, white dress shirt never goes out of style.


Really? I am impressed. For reals. I never imagined that I could pull it off at all. It didn't even occur to me to try it after watching the ads.


Isn't that the problem with TV advertising in general, though? It's great for raising awareness ABOUT a product, but it's terrible for selling what the product's like--the smell is the only important factor here, and a TV can't pull that off. (Ominous "yet.")

There may be people out there who are still dumb enough to buy the attitude that's being sold (see Axe or Tag's "Spray this on me and get mauled by girls!"), but no matter how cool the Pepsi or Coke ad is, I'd prefer to drink ginger ale, or, better yet--water.

This is, thankfully, the one realm in which the increased cynicism of the younger generation is paying off. Then again, people do still drink and smoke because they think it's cool--regardless of the well-known results, and long before they're addicted--so who knows? Maybe our collective dumbness is winning out, and the Old Spice marketers are aiming too highbrow with their stunts.


I think it's actually more of a question of who your commercial is aimed at and what you expect them to do with it. By the accounts I could find, Axe's advertising works pretty well: it's aimed at teenage and "tween" boys and has a pretty simple message: wear this, get chicks. The Old Spice ads, though...they're weird. That's part of the marketing issue. They seem to be aimed at women, but...do women buy deodorant for their men anymore? I remember, back when I was in high school, my history teacher, during the segment on economics, broke down an Irish Spring ad, pointing out all the subtle clues in that, despite centering around a rugged Irish guy in a cable-knit sweater, it was really aimed at women. In a way, the Old Spice ads are aiming at the same demographic, but it's a demographic that can't do what it wants. Advertising is about taking action. There's no action for me to take at the end of the Old Spice ads.


I cast another vote for Old Spice smelling *good*. Yes, it is what my grandfather wears. But it is also what my handsome gay man best friend wears, and my boyfriend. Different varieties all around, thank goodness, or else I would get mighty confused, but also the same thing smells different on different people, and anyway, I love that smell.

This came out way creepier than I intended...


A veritable groundswell of love for the Old Spice. Color me surprised.

Now the question is this: do they keep the campaign going, even if it's ineffective? (Except for Josh, all of the men in his family, his boyfriend, Jaime's boyfriend, handsome gay best friend and grandfather.)

Ian David Moss

Good call. The same is true with the venerable "Got Milk?" campaign, which people often cite as this raging success. Yet it didn't stop sales of non-flavored milk from plummeting over the period when it was getting as much press as you could ask for. Check it: http://createquity.com/2008/06/got-milk.html

malachy walsh

99, the reason the campaign is aimed at women is because W+K's (the ad agency that created this campaign) research uncovered an interesting fact: Women buy the stuff in the bathroom.

The campaign is an attempt to get men to accept body wash as masculine enough to use while not alienating the women who buy it.

The campaign's failure to deliver immediate sales makes me wonder if there's simply no traction with this purchasing set - ie, men and women in stable relationships are already set in their ways and the woman is simply not going to buy two body washes - one for her and one for him.

Axe, on the other hand, takes the low road - in all ways. They are not advertising to men in stable relationships. Just men who want to get laid to the first thing that lays down.

But sales could be down for all kinds of complicated reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of the creative. And the sheer numbers simply don't show it. The ads may be running at the wrong time (by the way, the ad did not appear during the official Super Bowl - something that the linked article is factually incorrect about) and during the wrong shows, the cost of the product may be too high, it might be hard to find in the store (literally on the shelf or in a location), people might not like the product. Or, perhaps, sales have been declining for a long time and now they're just declining less (this was the story with Got Milk?)

Unfortunately, if it's understood, rightly or wrongly, that it's the creative that isn't selling, get ready for a lot of directly misogynistic ads that tell boys and immature men that if they just slap this slop on they'll get blow jobs from bimbos who become mindless at the slightest whiff of their body wash.

Josh James

I'll be honest, I recently bought Old Spice deoderant specifically because of the commercials ... not because I think Old Spice is better / worse than anything else, but I got it primarily because the commercials were so good, I wanted to reward the maker for them.

Other than that, I rarely think about bathroom stuff ... I don't buy my shampoo, I don't buy my soap ... my wife buys it, and the one time I bought Axe (it may have been another brand like Axe but not Axe) my wife hated it and made me throw it out (she thought the smell was terrible) ... so she really is in charge of bathroom stuff, and I mainly don't want my pits to stink ... as long as it works, I'll use it.

Basically it's one of those things (like dishsoap, laundry detergent, shaving cream) I don't really want to think about in terms of brand, I'll get whatever is a bargain and simple when I need it.

My wife, on the other hand, has very specific qualifications on items such as those.

BTW, I bought the Old Spice underarm, and my wife goes, "because of the commercial, right?"

And I said, "Right!"

Art Hennessey

Although, just to keep things in perspective, try to find out where those figures that keeps being cited is coming from. No links anywhere in any of these posts all over the web.

I tried to find the info from Brandweek that keeps being mentioned, but I could only find a link to this guy's blog, where he is looking for the same thing. Maybe it is out there somewhere, but I couldn't find it.

In fact, this article in PR Week from yesterday is citing info from P&G that claims 107% increase in Old Spice Body Wash sales from last month. Which would seem to show that the viral ad worked gangbusters.(Once again, though, there is no link to that info, either.)

Got Milk?

I'd be suspect of any numbers that say it's not working, particularly if P&G is still running it. They're not the types to throw money away.

Also, GOT MILK was hugely successful in California where it first broke. The watered down versions of it with Celebrities were not as successful (creatively, they're really pretty bad - an attempt by a NY ad agency to appropriate the work of GSP in SF).


malachy walsh

I have insomnia tonight. Just a quick note. Forbes reports an increase in sales, not a decrease.


PLUS: http://www.prweekus.com/old-spice-goes-beyond-hot-man-in-towel-approach-to-boost-sales/article/175111/

Interestingly, many of the commenters on the Brandweek article pick apart the article's findings with some reasonable questions the sales figures provided by the writer.

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