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Marketing Campaign

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The Old Spice “Smell Like a Man, Man” Campaign

In 2010 the “Smell like a Man, Man” campaign was born. Proctor & Gamble (Old Spice’s parent company) launched this brilliant campaign in the United States, to market their Red Zone After Hours body wash for men. The main objective of the campaign was starting a conversation between men and women about body wash. Essentially they wanted to get people talking about their brand and to generate enough interest to boost sales. In order to achieve this goal, P & G did their market research and realized that 60% of all body washes are purchased by women. In order to increase sales, Old Spice would first have to win over female shoppers. Old Spice then hired former football player, Isaiah Mustafa as the new face behind their brand. He was the perfect spokesperson- funny, manly, and oozing with sex appeal. With women being their target audience, he became “the man your man could smell like.” By using a clever combination of short television ads, word of mouth and social media platforms like YouTube, twitter and face book, the “Smell like a Man, Man” campaign became one of the fastest growing and most popular interactive campaigns in history.

To really appreciate the success of this campaign, it is essential to have some background information about the brand. Old Spice is an American male grooming brand that has been in existence since 1934. Given the longevity of the brand, Old Spice tends to appeal to an older customer base and in past years they have gained a reputation for being “the brand your grandfather uses.” When Proctor & Gamble acquired Old Spice in 1990, they tried unsuccessfully to make the brand more appealing to younger crowds. As the years went by, Old Spice began losing market share to new competitors such as Axe, Irish Springs, Nivea etc. In 2010, P&G decided to revive and reposition Old Spice as a “cool and hip” brand for young men. The “Smell like a Man, Man” campaign was launched from February to July and the rest, as they say is history.

The first “Smell like a Man, Man” commercial aired on TV on February 8th just before the Super Bowl. What I find particularly interesting about this campaign is that even though the product is clearly for men, the campaign targets young women who shop for their men. In other words, instead of telling men how to smell or what to buy, Old Spice was telling women what their men should smell like. In the initial TV ad we see a handsome young man standing in his bathroom and wearing nothing but a towel. He is whisked through a series of rapid scenario changes all in romantic settings that appeal to women’s fantasies. The implicit message that Old Spice was sending to women is that if your man uses this body wash, anything is possible and he will become confident, handsome and charming. Since the strategy was to get both men and women talking about body wash, the advertising slots were strategically chosen and shown at times when they knew both men and women (couples) would be watching the ad. The commercials were fun, playful and engaging.

The television ad was such a hit with viewers that Old Spice decided to upload the video on YouTube. Less than 36 hours after it was posted online, the video received 23 million views. Suddenly, people everywhere were talking about “the man your man could smell like”. Viewers even started posting parody videos which generated more buzz for Old Spice. The PR team capitalized on the success of their ad campaign by securing TV appearances for the Old Spice guy, Isaiah Mustafa on shows like Oprah, ESPN, the Today show, Ellen DeGeneres and Good Morning America to name a few. The thirty second advertisement even won a prestigious award at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. When Proctor & Gamble realized how popular their campaign had become, they decided to tap into their growing fan base and do something more engaging than television ads.

In July 2010, the next phase of the marketing response campaign was launched. Old Spice decided to combine their TV ads with an interactive social media campaign. They invited people around the globe to submit questions via twitter, reddit, face book etc to be answered personally by the Old Spice guy. The response was huge. More than 2000 people submitted questions. In 48 hours, Old spice assembled a team who filmed 186 personalized video messages to fans and celebrities who had submitted questions online. Some celebrities like Guy Kawasaki, Alyssa Milano, Demi Moore and ABC news anchor George Stephanopoulos got video responses which tapped into their large global brand audiences. These video responses were then posted on YouTube and people were able to share them with their friends on face book, twitter etc.

The results of the Old Spice response campaign were phenomenal. On day one, the campaign received 5.9 million YouTube views (more views than Obama’s victory speech after 24 hours). On day two, Old Spice had 8 out of the 11 most popular videos on their YouTube brand channel. By day 3 the campaign had over 20 million views and one week later those numbers had doubled to 40 million views. Consequently, Old Spice’s twitter followers increased by 2800%, their face book fan interaction increased by 800% and traffic to Old Spice’s website increased by 300%. The campaign also had a dramatic effect on sales. Thirty days after the campaign was launched, Old Spice experienced a 107% increase in body wash sales. All of a sudden, people were starting to do something they had never done before. They were opening bottles of Old Spice body washes, smelling them in the aisles and people who had never used the product were now buying it. Consumers no longer associate Old Spice with their grandparents and the overall image of the brand has been revitalized. There are many important lessons that can be learned from this campaign. Old Spice was not afraid to interact with consumers. By using short personalized video messages, their brand became shareable. They leveraged their influences by targeting people who were influential in the online/media spheres. Those people served as brand advocates and provided free publicity for the Old Spice brand. Today thanks to the “Smell like a Man, Man” marketing campaign, Old Spice has established itself as the number one brand of body wash for men on the market. This campaign was a success and has set a new standard in the world of marketing and advertisement.


References/ Bibliography Entries


Edwards, J. 2010. Smells like a Clean Spirit. URL: [Accessed 23 February 2013]

Ehrlich, B. 2010. The Old Spice Social Media Campaign by the Numbers. URL: [Accessed 23 February 2013]

Norton, Mike. 2010. P &G Latest Innovations. URL: . [Accessed 22 February 2013].

Gravitas Business. 2011. What to do when your brand smells like an old man. URL:>. [Accessed 22 February 2013]

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