The Ad Campaign That Saved Old Spice
How an untapped market saved them from growing competition
What goes into a 30 second commercial to make it one of the most viral and most successful ad campaigns ever?
For Old Spice, it’s breaking brand perceptions, switching up the target consumer, and making a commercial so consistently engaging that even someone with the highest level of A.D.D. could stay focused on.
Old Spice held its position as the leader in the U.S. market for men's deodorant and body wash, but the brand was starting to become known for grandpas and was losing market share to the growing competition.
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Going From Boomers To Millennials
Starting in the 70’s, they advertised how girls loved the smell of Old Spice, claiming that when you think of the Old Spice scent, you thought of a real man.
The company had advertised its products to the older, 40–60-year-old market, before deciding to switch their target consumer to reach the 18–34-year range.
Old Spice was trying to shake off their old-school reputation, but were having trouble connecting with younger millennials.
And competition was coming for their market share when Axe body spray turned everything upside down. They successfully catered to high schoolers and college students by showing regular guys getting the good looking girl in their commercials.
For Old Spice, to shake off their grandpa perception, they had to try something drastic. That’s when they hired Wieden And Kennedy, who were the brains behind huge ad campaigns, most famous for creating the “Just Do It” slogan for Nike.
When doing market research for the campaign, they found a surprising stat.
60% of men’s body washes were purchased by women.
They found their new target customer and wanted to start a conversation between couples about body wash to convince women to stop buying their men “lady-scented products.”
Good Looking, Confident, Masculine, and Funny
Instead of paying millions for a commercial in the 2010 Super Bowl, Wieden and Kennedy made a calculated decision to not go head-to-head with the competition.
Instead they premiered the commercial, titled “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” on Youtube and Facebook.
This was the biggest shift in their marketing history, and it paid off more than they could imagine.
According to P&G, the campaign returned some overall impressive numbers:
On day 1, it got 5.9 million views on youtube.
On day 2, it had 8 out of top 11 most popular videos on the internet.
On day 3, 20 million views and Old Spice eventually became the #1 all time most viewed brand channel on Youtube.
1.2 billion earned media impressions, including features on national broadcast networks and international media outlets
2700% increase in Twitter followers, 800% increase in Facebook fan interaction, and 300% increase in website traffic
But Did The Impressions Turn to Revenue?
When Wieden and Kennedy were brought on, P&G were aiming for a 15% increase in sales.
But by May 2010, sales were up 60%, by July they were up 125%, which was an all time high for the brand.
Key Takeaways For Your Brand
Selling The End Goal For Your Customers
Men want to smell good, but why? They don’t want to smell good for their own sake, but because it attracts women.
Sell the end benefit, not the main feature.
If you’re selling running shoes, don’t talk about its quality, talk about how it helps them in their sport.
If you’re selling supplements, don’t talk about ingredients, talk about how it makes them feel younger.
Go Where Your Customers Are
Traditional routes will get you traditional results. Understand how your audience interacts online and in the real world, and meet them where they are so your brand presence can feel welcoming.
If you’re selling mobile games, show up on app stores and Roblox.
If you’re selling job recruiting software, show up on Linkedin.
Videos Need To Be Consistently Engaging
It seems like Old Spice had the tiktok style of videos mastered even before people’s attention spans spiraled down.
Video content needs to be consistently engaging, with a hook in the beginning and different transitions and pop ups coming every three seconds to keep people from scrolling past.
@itsdanielmac from “What Do You Do For A Living?” videos spoke about how his videos need to be “cracked out” for this generation and if it’s not up to standards, he’ll tell his editors to add “more crack.”
It’s amazing what can happen when you’re not being boring in your marketing. For Old Spice, they created a new category of body wash for men, connected with an untapped market, and helped the brand look 50 years younger.
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