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Analysis of 2010 Old Spice Campaign

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Media
Wordcount: 2680 words Published: 10th Oct 2017

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This essay aims to analyse the 2010 Old Spice Campaign which began with the release of the “Man Your Man Could Smell Like” commercial and finishing with the interactive “Response” campaign. The first part of the essay will explain about the brand Old Spice and the stiff competition it faced which resulted in Old Spice having to change their brand image. The second part of the essay will explain the 2010 Old Spice campaign in detail by explaining the rationale behind its conception, its launching and its audience reception, which was further bolstered by the launching of the “Response” campaign. The third part of the essay aims to analyse the campaign’s overall effectiveness in terms of a rhetorical context and an audience, market and social cultural context. Finally, the essay concludes by explaining the impact and overall significance of the campaign.

Old Spice

Old Spice is a well-known brand of male grooming products that has been around since 1938 and was acquired by Proctor and Gamble (P&G) from the Shulton Company in 1990, who soon shifted its target audience from the older generation of 40 to 60 year olds, to focus on the younger generation of 13 to 34 year old men. Old Spice soon grew in prominence after P&G released several new products under its brand that grew to become leaders in the market, like its men’s deodorant line (Belch and Belch, 2012).


However, by 2003 competition arises from the Unilever Axe brand, who are market leaders in Latin America and Europe. Axe’s advertising campaigns relied on suggestive images of provocative woman and evocative taglines (Belch and Belch, 2012). By 2009, stiff competition have resulted in Old Spice falling behind and big losses in market share. By the time of the 2010 Super Bowl, Unilever would begin a campaign for Dove Men’s body wash during the event, which therefore endeavoured Old Spice to shift focus back to them in order to boost sales and inhibit further losses in market share (Gold Effie Winner, 2011).

Market Research

Severe competition from Axe prompted Old Spice to revitalize their brand image in order to keep up, and thus approached advertising company, Wieden + Kennedy (W+K) in order to achieve it. Research done by W+K found that Old Spice’s target audience of the 13-to 34-year-old males were perplexed from the many types of body grooming products. The target audience was quite withdrawn to spend time and explore the options thoroughly, deeming them too confusing, too lady-like, or frankly “unsuitable for them”. Most men also perceive body wash as being a female product which is unnecessary for them to use. Old Spice also lacked a manly image and has the fixed perception of being used by old people, which did not appeal much to their target audience of younger generation males. The results prompted W+K to relocate Old Spice as the easy, masculine choice for serious men amidst the complicated, crowded and confusing, body product category (Belch and Belch, 2012).


In February 2010, Old Spice released the “Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign.


The main objective for this advertising campaign was to change the perception of Old Spice being the product of the baby boomer generation in order to fit and appeal with Old Spice’s new target audience of younger men, which resulted in the creation of the “Old Spice Guy” (former NFL sportsman, Isaiah Mustafa).

Target Audience:

Despite the targeted market of the Old Spice product being men aged 13 to 34 years, the campaign targeted women instead as research revealed that most purchases regarding body cleansing made by men were decided by their female counterparts. Old Spice decided to directly reach out to women by telling them that “I am the man your man could smell like”, which would prompt them to purchase Old Spice in order for their male counterparts to smell like the Old Spice Guy. The aim was to spark a discussion between women and men about the benefits of having masculine-smelling body wash (Old Spice) for men over “female-scented” brands (Gold Effie Winner, 2011).


A 33 second video was filmed featuring Isaiah Mustafa as the “Old Spice Guy” explaining the benefits of using Old Spice over “lady-scented” body wash brands. Description of commercial as follows:

The Old Spice Guy faces the camera and greets the women, wearing nothing but a bath towel, prompting the viewer (in this case, ladies) to look at their male counterparts and back to him a few times in order to compare their attractiveness. He concludes that unfortunately, their male counterparts do not look like him but an alternative is, that they are able to smell like him when they stop using lady-scented body wash and switch to Old Spice. The set then transitions smoothly to a boat out at sea, in which he holds up an oyster that contains, “two tickets to that thing you love”, before turning into many diamonds flowing down from his hand, and then exclaiming again that, “anything is possible when your man smells like Old Spice and not a lady”, while the Old Spice product materializes from the diamonds, before the camera pulling back and revealing that he’s on a horse (Old Spice, 2010).


It was decided that the video would be released on social media platforms, rather than the Super Bowl. W+K thus secured search engine keywords that would direct users to the commercial when searching for Super Bowl commercials in order to generate buzz. The video was soon released on YouTube on February 4th, 2010, before going on television soon after. Old Spice’s website and social media pages was altered in order to adapt to the commercial. The website displayed visuals of youthful males participating in various “masculine” activities. Their Facebook and Twitter pages also featured images of the “Old Spice Guy”. Print ads also accompanied the release.

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Post-launch, the advertisements aimed to fulfil another criteria which is: getting males and females to start conversations about the campaign. The media buy was thus aimed at environments where men and women would be viewing it together. Examples like American Idol, the Winter Olympics, the TV show Lost and most importantly, in cinemas during the weekend of Valentine’s Day. Soon, the campaign became increasingly widespread and popular, achieving millions of views and multiple parodies. The “Old Spice Guy” also made appearances on talk shows like Oprah and Ellen DeGeneres. The campaigns popularity, resulted in the “Response” campaign, an event which went on for two days, in which the “Old Spice Guy” recorded over 186 personal video messages to internet users who posted comments about the commercial on social media platforms, which was then uploaded online (Wieden & Kennedy New York, 2010).


*Both Sources from Golden Effie Award, (2011)

As shown in the pie chart above, Old Spice managed to achieve its primary objective of the campaign by dominating online conversations about body wash with 76% of the majority share throughout the period of January and March, 2010. By April, “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” video garnered more than 10 million views on YouTube, which was more than 10 times the amount of views accumulated for Dove’s Super Bowl commercial (Wieden & Kennedy New York, 2010).

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The “Response” campaign reached 20 million views on YouTube in just three days, and Old Spice’s social media following increased substantially. After the “Response” campaign, followers increased about 2700% and 60% for Twitter and Facebook respectively. YouTube subscribers increased from 65,000 to 150, 000, as well as traffic to the Old Spice website increasing up to 300%. As shown in the graph above, sales of Red Zone Body Wash also increased up to 125% from the time of the campaign’s launch to July 2010. Old Spice soon became the number one All-Time Most Viewed branded channel on YouTube. (Wieden & Kennedy New York, 2010).

Own View

Old Spice succeeded in reinvigorating its image by adding a youthful, masculine and alluring appeal to its personality and image. It also established a positive reputation for itself through the commercial’s use of humour by becoming, “the brand with hilarious commercials”. Audiences will now immediately assume that future Old Spice commercials will be entertaining and thus will pay attention to them. This has allowed Old Spice to break free of the crowd of other commercials and prompts audience to focus on the messages. Although subsequent commercials may not be as interesting or persuasive, audiences are still likely to be watchful for any Old Spice advertisements expecting entertainment. The commercial’s humour was sufficiently good and enough as well. Old Spice Guy’s exaggerated masculinity was the right amount of funny to stimulate the viewer’s sense of humour. The Response campaign was also brilliant in every way as it allowed for higher interactivity and a real intimate engagement and relationship with the target audience as well as providing quality entertainment value.

Rhetorical Analysis

This section aims to provide a rhetorical analysis of the first “Man Your Man Could Smell Like” commercial video (Old Spice, 2010).

The campaign targets women, hence, Old Spice Guy initially addresses women in order to appeal to their desire of making their male counterparts more attractive, however, he indirectly targets insecure males who themselves want to BE more attractive to women, which is the product’s main target audience. The ethos (narrators’ character and credibility in gaining approval) of the Old Spice Guy is by exhibiting the good traits he possesses; muscular, good-looking and tall which reinforces the credibility of the product and suggests that anyone who uses it would be as desirable as he is. The commercial also displays diamonds materializing out of the Old Spice Guy’s hand in which suggests that the character is wealthy and the sequence with the “two tickets to that thing you love” coming out of the oyster suggest that he can get anything a women desires. This reinforces the perception that he is the exemplary man.

Next, the character uses pathos (seeking to arouse emotion in order to obtain approval) to appeal to the viewer’s insecurity and their perceptions of the perfect man. Old Spice Guy stimulates the viewer’s sense of humour and his dramatic delivered dialogue allows him to seem charming and charismatic. Also the use of imagery, like the Old Spice product materializing from a handful of diamonds, uses pathos to influence the audience into associating Old Spice with opulence.

The commercial’s lacks logos (logical reasons to support argument) as the commercial is immensely absurd and improbable. Its main logical argument is that using Old Spice would make you smell better and thus become more attractive and exciting. This can be associated with a logical fallacy called, “The Slippery Slope” in which is the belief that taking a certain action (in this case, using Old Spice), would result in a chain of events with no logical explanation (attractiveness, luxury, etc.). While it is reasonable to suggest that the product WILL make you smell better, it cannot be proven logically that it would lead to you becoming more interesting or becoming rich and obtaining lavish possessions like diamonds or a boat.

This can be related to the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) under the peripheral route to persuasion in which the audience is deemed lacking the ability or motivation to compute information and would not probably undertake any thorough cognitive processing. This is when the viewer depends on the peripheral cues in the message and makes a decision, rather than evaluating the information and making sense of the argument. Positive peripheral cues like the attractiveness of the “Old Spice Guy” and luxurious materials being associated with the Old Spice product can overshadow the overall logic of the message to the viewer (Belch and Belch, 2012). The commercials overall effectiveness was in being able to relay positive peripheral cues to the viewers as quickly and directly as possible before the viewer could comprehend the overall sense behind it.

The exigency (urgent demand or need) of the commercial is created by people’s desire to be attractive (e.g. men would like to be attractive to women) thus, the commercial portrays the perception that Old Spice users automatically becomes so thanks to the positive visuals being portrayed in the commercial. The tone and speed in which the way the Old Spice Guy speaks (which is direct and rather in a hurry) out his argument further reinforces the sense of urgency. The argument’s effectiveness ultimately depends on the viewer’s subconscious overlooking the fallacies of the argument presented within the commercial as well as being stimulated to action by the commercial arousing emotions over confidence and attraction.

Audience, Market, Socio-Cultural Context

Old Spice’s target audience (13 to 34 year old males) are able to be influenced by the commercial as they are inclined to feel insecure about themselves when it comes to attracting the opposite sex, in which purchasing Old Spice would give them a confidence boost, even though it is clear that the connection between the product and its benefits are non-existent. This would still influence an individual’s decision-making without being cognitively aware.

Old Spice’s target market put greater emphasis on the need for fragrances. Their psychographic of the target audience believes that good deodorant and smelling good is essential as it eliminates the need for a cologne, and good and proper grooming is an important aspect to overall attractiveness to the opposite sex.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs explains that the primary motivation for consumers to buy grooming products is a result of their need for “esteem”, in which the target audience is driven by concerns regarding developing masculine identities and to be perceived as attractive to the opposite sex, all in which would encourage the consumer to seek products that would allow them to achieve their desired image (Belch and Belch, 2012).

Old Spice also managed to establish a strong sense of brand loyalty among its consumers through the “Response” campaign, by allowing them to get personally invested in the brand through social media interaction. A personal connection with Old Spice allowed its consumers to fulfill Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs of Self-Actualization which is the need for self-fulfilment (Belch and Belch, 2012).


Old Spice’s managed to achieve its goal of re-branding itself from being considered a “grandfather” product to appealing to both men and women of the younger generation through the 2010 Old Spice Campaign. The overall significance of the “Response” campaign innovated advertising by introducing real-time brand building through establishing an interactive an intimate relationship with the target audience that modernized and humanized Old Spice as a brand, an endeavour that would certainly be considered as the most popular and rapid growing interactive campaigns of all time.


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