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CASE STUDY – Old Spice: Smell Like A Man, Man
“Look at your man. Now look at me. Now back at your man. Now back to me.”
Chances are pretty high that you read that in the voice of the guy from the Old Spice ad – and for good reason.
Winner of Cannes Lion Film Grand Prix. An Emmy for Outstanding Commercial. No. 4 in Ad Age’s top campaigns of the 21st century.
There’s no debate: Old Spice made an absolute killer campaign.
It’s an ad that travelled around the world, eventually becoming part of pop culture: Old Spice: Smell Like a Man, Man.
The idea was simple: Using short, rapid-fire monologues, actor Isaiah Mustafa explained that anything is possible if your man smells like Old Spice.
In the time since the initial commercial aired, other well-known figures such as Fabio and even Terry Crews were introduced as competition to Mustafa, featuring dueling adverts.
But why was the campaign so successful?
Having failed to successfully rebrand back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Old Spice was rapidly losing market share to Lynx (‘Axe’ in certain markets). Something needed to change.
Their biggest issue: Old Spice marketed their product to an aging population, which resulted in diminishing returns in the long term. They needed a way to return to their previous position as a major competitor.
Enter creative agency Wieden + Kennedy in 2010 with Isaiah Mustafa, and the body wash market was changed forever.
With the goal of completely rebranding Old Spice as a product for a younger audience, the marketing strategy found its major focus in one key fact: 60% of body wash purchases were made by women.
Instead of focusing solely on young males as their target audience, Wieden + Kennedy switched things up and made young females the major focus of the campaign.
At the heart of the campaign was research and understanding. This agency took the time to understand their audience, assess their wants and needs, and then they went the extra mile in developing an understanding of the people around their audience.
There’s no point trying to sell to consumers if you don’t know what makes them tick. In this case, the people consuming and the people buying were two completely different demographics. They were targeting the wrong crowd, and that shift in thinking was the key to success.
Not many other campaigns even come close to Old Spice’s level of success.
Old Spice quickly rose to become the top men’s body wash brand in the USA, bagging themselves a list of international awards and accolades.
Just a handful of the extremely impressive stats:
What’s the takeaway?
Old Spice took a long, hard look at themselves, realised that something wasn’t working, and got to work fixing it.
There are lessons here for any business:
- Do the research. Your exact target market may not be what you think it is. It’s always worth doing your research and digging into the data.
- The market changes. That means you need to change with it. All brands become outdated with time, so it’s up to you to stay on top of trends and keep your offering relevant.
- Be authentic. It’s the simplest sounding advice, with the toughest application. Old Spice’s ad campaign was so blatantly self-aware that it became a meme. The time for straight-faced corporate lists of your product’s benefits has passed; we’re now in an age where humour and authenticity are your greatest tools.
We can’t guarantee an ad campaign so amazing it gets parodied by Sesame Street, but our team does know a thing or two about branding and marketing.