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Old Spice: Swan Dive or Cannonball?

By now, you’ll have seen the excellent recent Old Spice ads as well as the ingenious @oldspice followup campaign.

But the thing is, as good as they are, its not going to make me buy old spice. And I don’t think I’m the only one. They’re amusing precisely because they take the piss out of the OTT manliness traditionally associated with the brand.

At them not with them

Well done to Procter & Gamble for embracing a great idea and letting W&K do a good job of it. The brand has certainly received more exposure than it’s seen for a long time. But in terms of building a relationship, I feel a bit like it’s us and W&K sitting together and laughing at a brand that we both know we’d never buy even if it came with free SWAN DIVEs (which, technically, it does.)

There’s a good chance some may be more inclined to make the switch and without a doubt its an achievement that this marketing prompted such decisions.  But social media campaigns alone can’t fix the problems with the Old Spice product, namely the smell.

Style over Substance

I have to put this one down as a success for W&K more than Old Spice.  It’s another good example of an integrated consumer campaign pushing things further and further and being allowed to get away with it.  Personally, because of my role at Wildfire PR, I’m having a good think about how this could work in the B2B world with different values emphasised. Blog post may come soon.

But for me, how Old Spice build upon the newfound brand awareness with product innovation will be more interesting than how many more YouTube videos they pump out.  Perhaps I’ll even buy a bottle or two to encourage them, even if I’ll have to hurl them into the ocean so nobody finds out.

UPDATED 16 JULY: Looks like there may have been some truth in this- apparently sales of the Old Spice product are down by 7%…

By Max Tatton-Brown

Max Tatton-Brown is founder and MD of Augur, and has written for publications including the Guardian, Sifted and TechCrunch.

3 replies on “Old Spice: Swan Dive or Cannonball?”

Nice post MTB, although not sure I totally agree. Old Spice has achieved a goodly amount of brand awareness amongst a section of the market that had either forgotten or simply didn’t know about them before. I doubt they expected everyone who saw the ads to go and buy the product but you can be sure that many have.

As for the smell….I couldn’t comment, but have you smelled it recently?! We assume it smells rough as old boots, but I have to say I am more tempted to go and try it now than I was a year ago and therefore they’ve achieved their goals.

Granted, I will be quite disappointed if I don’t end up riding a horse out of Boots following my purchase…

@Crossy- all very good points and the increase in exposure is a definite result. However, it’s not going to have come cheap plus I can’t help but question the long term ROI of investing in the marketing rather than the product.

After all, once we’ve finished laughing at how terrible the product is, what happens next? Should be an interesting one.

Never question the ROI in marketing!! 🙂 To an $80bn company (and 6th most profitable in the world apparently), I suspect that actually this campaign barely touched the sides when you think about how much they would have dropped on campaigns such as the Woods/Federer/Henry and Beckham Gillette stuff.

As we are proving right now, the viral nature of the content has done an excellent job of infiltrating the target market globally without the need for a constant barrage of ads on TV.

Anyway, enough, I’m off to buy some – next time you see me I’ll be buff and surfing on a crocodile or something.

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