Great ads don’t always sell

Posted on July 28th, 2010 by LookinGood

The “Man Your Man Could Smell Like” – stinks at selling Old Spice.  At least that’s what the sales numbers seem to reflect.  The advertising campaign starring Isaiah Mustafa has launched the former football player’s show business career, spawned hundreds of knock-off videos on YouTube, has gotten more than 700,000 people on Facebook to give them a thumbs up and another 93,000 to follow them on Twitter, but doesn’t seem to be responsible for selling more Old Spice.  Go figure.

The Wieden & Kennedy creative campaign has been a wild success, with a series of ads promoting “the perfect man.”  The handsome, buff, naked-from-the-waist-up Mustafa addresses his rapid-fire Barry White dialogue to women: “Hello ladies, how are you?  Fantastic. Does your man look like me? No! Can he smell like me? Yes! Should he use Old Spice Body Wash? I don’t know – do you like the smell of adventure?  Do you want a man who smells like he can bake a gourmet cake in the dream kitchen he built for you with his own hands? Of course you do…” and then it goes on.  Mustafa moves from a beach to a kitchen to the woods where he dives off a waterfall into a hottub that falls away to show him sitting on a motorcycle.  Another commercial has him moving seamlessly from the shower to a boat to sitting on a horse, with costume and prop changes dropping in – all the while telling the ladies that since we can’t have him, we should encourage our men to at least smell like him.

The social media strategy is nothing short of brilliant.  The Old Spice man posts video answers to selected questions on Facebook and answers Twitter messages on YouTube.  One video shows him standing outside the shower, hands on hips, reciting his 140 character response to @wspencer:  “Am typing while running from stampede of scantily-clad female admirers who appeared after trying #oldspice. Is there an antidote?” Another has him apologizing that he can’t answer everyone who writes because “after all, I am just one ridiculously handsome man.”  On Facebook, he has agreed (in theory) to adopting someone and gives advice about facial hair.

This new cult status, however, does not seem to be the reason for an uptick in Old Spice sales.  In fact, year-to-date figures, compared to other men’s personal care products who don’t own ‘the perfect man’ are flat as the arches in my feet.  Advertising Age reports that several men’s products – sibling brand Gillette, Beierdorf’s Nivea,  Dove and Axe, have made the same, if not better gains over the last few months, giving away high-value coupons and through unremarkable advertising. “Consider the four weeks ended June 13, possibly the best month ever for P&G body wash. Old Spice’s sales were up 106% from the prior-year period, jumping 4.8 share points in a category that grew 17.7%. But sales of Gillette body wash, also backed by buy-one-get-one-free coupons and by TV ads (but not Mr. Mustafa), were up a lot more, 277% and 3.9 share points, though it’s by far a smaller brand in the category,“ reports the trade magazine.

Men’s personal care products are on the rise, but whether or not Mustafa is selling more Old Spice is a mystery.  What is not a mystery is that women LOVE him.  The former wide receiver may have had a hard time landing in a permanent football franchise after gigs with the Seattle Seahawks, the Tennessee Titans, Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns and finally Barcelona for the NFL Europe, but this guy is a keeper in Hollywood and has put Old Spice back on the shelves.

But watch out – OHDOCTAH has launched a counter-ad for Dove, based on the theory that “ladies don’t like sleeping on bricks…they like more cushion” and therefore will go with a guy built like a Sumo wrestler who uses Dove Body Wash.

This whole advertising campaign is the best entertainment this summer has to offer.

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A short history of cosmetics

150BC Romans use yellow eye shadow.

The Romans preferred to use gold-colored eye shadow which was made from saffron and painted onto the area around the sides and under their eyes. Then they used powdered wood ash to color their eyelids black. This gold color was quite significant at the time because they saw themselves as the rulers of the Mediterranean.