Not Your Grandad’s Old Spice

The manly smell of success.

When was the last time the name Old Spice reminded you of your grandfather?  It’s more likely that a whiff of aftershave, and not the name, is responsible for any sort of connection.  Through their TV ads, the Ol’ Sailboat has been tugging at the sensibilities of young men for years.  The absurdist humor, sophistication and attitude focused on impressing the fairer sex (by way of sheer manliness) have been present in the Ahoy, Freshershist, and The Man Your Man Could Smell Like (TMYMCSL) campaigns, among others.  And guess who’s been behind this perception direction.  Wieden+Kennedy, of course.

Special attention deserves to be paid to TMYMCSL, who is brilliantly played by ex-NFL player, Isaiah Mustafa.  Generating incredible buzz following the 2010 Super Bowl, the campaign has continued its streak of clever writing, great acting and mesmerizing production with the recently released, Questions.  See just how clever the process of producing the original Super Bowl spot was, in an interview with the two-headed copywriting team from W+K Portland (below – it’s long but really interesting).

Why does it work? In a nod to the talent of everyone involved, these ads have been widely popular among both sexes.  For a product intended to be used by men, both TMYMCSL and Questions take an interesting strategy by talking directly to women – often the purchasers of household hygiene products.  Old Spice has long understood that sometimes the best way to appeal to the guy is when “girls like it.”  Start off with a former professional athlete in a towel, and you’ve got their attention.  Seamlessly showcase all the things their “Old Spice Man” could do for them, and you’ve got them hooked (and/or wishing for a horse).  Of course, all that aforementioned talent did a great job appealing to everyone’s sense of humor without insulting their intelligence.  Axe, I hope you’re paying attention.

With a groundbreaking agency at the helm of an ambitious brand, I wouldn’t expect anything less in their future.  Where will we see Mustafa next?  For now, he can safely say, “I’m on a roll.”

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