Old Spice’s Perfect Recipe to Start a Conversation

couple watching old spice commercial

When I first learned about Old Spice, and other than the fact that I thought it was a brand that makes hot sauce, I didn’t pay much attention to it. Not being from the United States, I was not aware of the existence of the brand. And when I heard that the brand went from a dying brand to one of the most recognizable in the US, it became an obsession. I ran to research and learned their secret.

I was amazed by the number of right moves they executed to revive themselves that I decided to share them with you.

Old Spice has been the Jack Daniels of men’s deodorants and body wash. They practically invented body wash. However, with the rise of competition and business slowing, Old Spice had one last chance to bring itself back to life or fade away forever. For that, they needed to come back into the conversation with the big sharks or deodorant and body wash. How to do that? A little hint: Brand awareness. In a recession period, we at TheBrandformer will show you how you can learn from one of the iconic brandformance stories, how Old Spice, like a phoenix, rose from the ashes with one very genius move drawn from a specific piece of data.

Old Spice had specific goals: to start the conversation about Old Spice between people and, like any other brand, to improve sales.

To do that, Old Spice came up with the perfect recipe:

  1. A solid, factual piece of data
  2. A creative strategy
  3. The advertising strategy

The Piece of Data

For integrated marketing communication to be effective, deep research needs to be done. You are researching and looking but don’t know what you are looking for exactly.The research team at Wieden+Kennedy found that women make more than half the body wash and deodorant purchases. In essence, this sounds like an insignificant piece of information, but with the right creative strategy, it will turn into a genius ad.

By creating the right strategy, Wieden+Kennedy assured that by focusing on this piece of data, something new was going to come out of it that would make people talk about it.

The Creative Strategy

Now, if women make more than half of all body wash purchases, why not speak to them directly?

With this was born the idea of “The man your man could smell like.” If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you go watch the ad!

It seems that the essence of the idea is very complex; to portray to the watcher a smell. The complexity lays in answering “how can an ad make people smell the product before buying it”.

How can we portray a sense through another sense? Weiden+Kennedy did a fantastic job answering that question. By creating a charismatic character and hypnotic setting, they have succeeded in telling the prospect that “okay, maybe you can’t smell our product on TV, but you can most definitely assume that the character and the setting smell good. And that’s how our product smells, as good as you imagine it.”

Let us now talk a bit more about the ad itself and why at TheBranformer, we think that it was very successful.

First, the ad was shot in one continuous shot, all the scenery changes were planned so that it happens while the actor was talking and moving between sets, or should I say, the set moving behind him. There was almost no CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery).

Having the ad shot in one single shot gives the ad a sense of reality and urgency, a speed in talking and moving from one scene to another. Adding to this the harmonic structure and deep voice of the actor, the ad seems to have been engineered to go viral and be talked about.

If you’re still reading and haven’t seen the ad yet by this time, seriously, go watch it! We’ll wait.

The advertising strategy

Weiden+Kennedy perfectly planned the airing of the ad so that it cannot be missed. They first posted the ad on YouTube a couple of days before the 2010 Superbowl. They then aired it during the Superbowl and on Tv after the Superbowl. They mainly focused on airing it between shows couples tend to watch together, such as American Idol or Lost.

This tactic made the conversation about the commercial relevant for men and women by warring off the awkwardness, which made it legit to go viral.

The Results

These are vertiginous numbers for what 1 campaign generated:For the first 3 months of 2010, the brand captured a whopping 75% of all conversations in the category. In short, the ad went completely viral. People started making their own version of the ad, discussing it online, on tv, and on social media.

Did Weiden+Kennedy succeed in raising awareness for the brand? Heck yeah! Did they stop there? Heck no! If they had stopped there, the buzz would’ve probably ended there, but since they saw the response the ad generated, they decided to make a response campaign. The team created 186 personalized videos to answer fans and celebrities from Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit.

Only 1 week after posting the answers, the brand’s following on Twitter increased by 2700%. Yes, two thousand and seven hundred percent. Facebook fans interaction went up 800%, and Old Spice became the number 1 most viewed branded channel on YouTube. After 6 months of launching the campaign, the brand generated 1.4 billion impressions. When the goal was to increase body wash sales by 15%, sales increased by 60% and doubled in less than a year.

Brand awareness? I call this brand hyper-awareness.

I think it is right to say that the right strategies can simultaneously aim and hit multiple targets. “The man your man could smell like” succeeded in creating hyper-awareness around the brand by making it not only a brand people know but a brand people want to imitate and talk about.

At the end of the day, companies look at numbers, and thanks to this campaign, the brand increased its sales more than what was wished for. This can prove that when research can be exploited in the right way, with the right mix of creative freedom, well-rounded integrated marketing communication, and good fortune, you can change the direction of a brand forever.

Because the strategy was so successful and showed a new creative way of advertising, we can even dare to ask: does the product actually matter?