transition from tradition

Every year when I was a kid, I remember lovingly wrapping a bottle of Old Spice aftershave for my dad to open under the tree on Christmas morning.  And every single year, my dad would act surprised and manage to muster a genuine look of  appreciation on his face. It was only years later that I found out he wasn’t so fond of the stuff. I look back now and find it quite comical.

Originally marketed as a women’s fragrance in 1937, Old Spice for men followed in 1938 in its classic buoy-shaped bottle,  known as Early American Old Spice. Like mine,  Old Spice after shave and cologne became a staple product in homes through traditional radio, television and print ads.

By the time Procter & Gamble purchased Old Spice from its original founders in 1990, it was tired and in need of a new lease on life. P&G has made a number of changes over the last 20 years including the branding, packaging and product lines.  But the most impressive changes were attributed to its marketing, transitioning from traditional paid media to social media  – and in the process, re-invented the brand. After all, for years it was known for being loved on your dad – not your man.

In February 2010, Old Spice introduced their new sex symbol pitchman, Isaiah Mustafa, referred to by its audiences as ‘Old Spice Guy’. They launched “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” television spot, and it was a huge success.

“The Man Your Man Could Smell Like”


Even childrens’ animation characters took a piece of the action by capitalizing on the popularity of these ads, generating free PR for the brand with these spoofs. After all, imagery is the best form of flattery 🙂 Sesame Streets’ lovable muppet character, Grover:

“Smell Like A Monster”


Who cannot fall in love with that adorable cat with the spanish accent from Disney who promoted their new movie ‘Puss and Boots’

“The Cat Haz Swagger”

Needless to say, the ads went viral on YouTube, but Old Spice wanted more. They wanted to engage with fans on a deeper, more intimate level. Enter Old Spice social media response campaign.  

Social Media Response Campaign

Old Spice Guy personally responded  on Twitter and YouTube with over 186 videos  to answer questions from fans and celebrities in near real-time (within 2 1/2 days). Instead of using traditional paid media, Old Spice leveraged social platforms including Facebook.

What was the ROI?

Within days, Old spice was ranked 8 of 11 most popular videos on YouTube, (generating over 5.9 billion views), and quickly became the #1, all time, most viewed, branded YouTube channel.

Their Twitter following increased by 2700% and Facebook fan interaction went up 800%. Over all,  web traffic increased by 300% and sales doubled.

Old Spice became the number one body wash for men —ultimately creating one of the fastest-growing and most popular interactive campaigns in history.

Visit our Pinterest board for more examples of Old Spice ads to see how the brand evolved over the years.

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