The Jury is Still Out

June 5, 2011 by

One of the most popular advertising campaigns is the Old Spice commercials. For those of you who opt not to watch TV, the ads show an athletic looking man, ‘the Old Spice Guy’ sharing ways that a good smelling man who uses Old Spice body scent can provide a romantic atmosphere/ getaway/fantasy for any lady. The Old Spice guy first made his appearance after 2010’s Super Bowl. Now, as he announced in a recent commercial, he’s back.

I think the commercials are funny, memorable and the special effects are outstanding. Plus, the online campaign including You Tube video responses to random questions was an absolute stroke of genius. The You Tube Old Spice site has garnered total number of views of over 200 million. Yes, awareness is extremely high.

Here’s a comment made from Gary Vaynerchuk of Fast Company magazine. For the most part, I’d agree with Mr. Vaynerchuk’s comments. However, I think there’s one area that he missed. For me, it’s the lynchpin. I’ve always believed that Old Spice had great awareness….but it made guys smell like their dads. When I was in my early twenties, the last thing I wanted was to smell like my dad. Now that I’m my dad’s age, I still have the mental image of smelling like Old Spice. Old Spice was, to me, in the same category as Bay Rum. And if you don’t know what Bay Rum is, ask your dad.

The mix of traditional media and social media was engaging in the Old Spice ads. I understand Mr. Vaynerchuk’s belief that Old Spice could continue to engage with its audience through social media to create an ongoing dialogue. The off-the-charts online views and the overall popularity of the advertisements indicate a connection between the marketplace which can continue to be cultivated.

But honestly when I walk down the aisle to look at body wash, I see Old Spice amidst the other body washes and soaps. This is one area, unlike most consumer products I use in my life, where I’m not tied to a brand. Despite the offers of coupons or the awareness, I’m hard pressed to give Old Spice a try. It’s probably my personal bias – I don’t want to smell like my dad.

If the reported numbers in the Fast Company article are true, the campaign has been a wild success in terms of awareness and actual sales figures. The question for me will always be retention. This is a product category where I have no tie to a brand yet I am a big proponent of a specific campaign. I’m simply not compelled to trial. Clearly with the sales figures, I appear to be an anomaly. Until I see long term retention figures and I’m convinced that the scent doesn’t compare to the cologne, the jury is still out.