Jon Thomas
Jon Thomas
Communications Director

The Old Spice Guy is Back, but Do We Still Care?

The Old Spice Guy is BackAfter a six-month hiatus, our favorite shirtless alpha-male with striking brown eyes and bulging pecs is back for Round 3, and just in time for the Super Bowl. The newest Old Spice campaign will tout their Fresh Collection (a line of deodorant, body spray and body wash). The commercial will be debuted on one lucky Superfan’s social network feed before the Super Bowl.

While the title character, portrayed by the dreamy Isaiah Mustafa, promises that these advertisements are as entertaining as the hilarious previous batches, I wonder - do we still care about the Old Spice Guy?

Few campaigns can claim to be as successful as last year’s Old Spice campaign was. With over 15 million channel views and 1.4 billion impressions, Mustafa’s spots made Old Spice the most watched YouTube channel ever. And the engagement translated to sales — a whopping 27% sales increase over 6 months since launching. Ultimately Old Spice became the #1 body wash on the market. So there is no doubt that this campaign will go down in advertising history. However, nothing, especially advertising campaigns, can pique our interest forever. It’s only a matter of time before the Old Spice guy jumps the shark and becomes, well, soooo 2010.

I’m sure I’ll be considered crazy to even question the Old Spice Guy and his effectiveness. However, when I first saw that he was back my initial reaction was one of boredom. I wasn’t excited, like I would be if, say, I heard The Monkees were coming out out with a new album. I get it — he’s manly and he says manly things. He’s good looking and my wife enjoys looking at him. They put him on crazy sets and he somehow ends up on a motorcycle after diving into a pool. He even replies in semi-real-time to those who comment on YouTube/Facebook/Twitter. But will all this result in more brand engagement? Is there anyone who hasn’t heard of this meme and may be newly swayed to buy Old Spice?

There’s also a larger underlying problem here: no matter how funny it is, the Old Spice campaign isn’t anything more than a clever yet traditional TV ad. In the past six months after the ads stopped, were people still buying Old Spice in droves? Were people still sharing the videos? Were bloggers writing articles about it? I’m not saying that a campaign is only successful if someone’s writing about it every day, but in order to unearth a true brand story, the content must have an element of engagement and value with assets that remain long after the spending is over.

This campaign is funny and entertaining, and with over 600,000 views of the “I’m Back” video has proven that Mustafa and his white towel still draw eyeballs. But do you still care?

Image: AP

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  • Joe Clay

    I definitely still care. All of these recent ads, including the Terry Crews versions, have still been great on repeated viewings. They still entertain me and I’ve been using Old Spice body wash and deodorant for a few years now. If I weren’t already using them, this campaign would have gotten me to look at them.

    They’re funny without being in your face with the selling end of it, even though they technically are. That’s the best part about it. And they were smart enough to drop back so that they could excite you again when it returned.

    They have a good thing going, and they need to keep their brand in the minds of consumers. Until it’s played out, they should keep it up.

  • Anonymous

    I, for one, certainly don’t mind watching him in his towel. That certainly will never get old. I can see the point that if Old Spice comes back with him in the same manner that they started, we will be bored of him. But my interest is piqued to see what Old Spice will think of next. They changed the way we think of advertising and how it works within social medial. I can only assume that they have phase II of it all in their back pocket and we certainly will be thinking of him again!

  • Jon Thomas

    Thanks Joe. I would certainly not argue with you about their entertainment value. I am not so much entertained by the content but intrigued with how they actually pulled off the technical aspects of the videos. The semi real-time response videos had me going crazy though. I was quite impressed with great the writing was when considering the turnaround time.

    I expected to be in the minority with this one. I like the idea that they’re actually bringing the audience into their story by rewarding a SuperFan, but they could have gone a little further. I know there were a number of spoofs and parodies of the man-in-towel videos, including one hilarious one for a mayoral candidate. Maybe they could have increased engagement by running a spoof contest?

    I don’t think continually running TV ads (even though they’re on YouTube, its still TV advertising until there’s a level of true engagement or education) is a long-term strategy, but I suppose traditional advertising never was. It was always just pay-produce-air-repeat.

    They shouldn’t throw in the towel just yet, but I fear (for them) if they don’t come up with some new ideas around this story, it may get tired.

  • Jon Thomas

    Thanks Bec. I too am hoping they have something in their back pocket. Let’s just hope it’s not an “Old Spice Guy” sitcom.

  • Don Power

    In a word: boring

    In an analogy: Rambo 5

    Don’t the producers know we all have A.D.D and that Charlie Sheen is all we care about right now.

    Egypt? Yah I hear they make great cotton to build shirts for muscular manly bodies.


    Click the link on my comment profile for ‘A Brave New World – of Distraction’

    - Don
    aka @donpower

  • Joe Clay

    I enjoy both aspects of the videos. I like the technical side (as a motion graphics artist) and their ability to pump out those youTube responses, with excellent writing, in almost real-time was certainly amazing. I also really like the content itself. They did a great job in developing that character.

    If they were to continually fall back on that for years it might get boring, but I think it still has some legs.

    If I were them, I might try to buy up smaller blocks of ad time, and use it for something a bit more revolutionary. They could basically do youTube responses as actual commercials. Or they could do something even more unconventional. What that is, I do not know. The youTube idea was a simple, yet genius idea. Perhaps there’s another simple, yet genius idea for television that is undiscovered?

    Over time it definitely needs to evolve and look for more interaction like the youTube event. That definitely put them a step higher in my mind.