Old SpiceIt’s been three years since Old Spice first took social media by storm, with a charming, shirtless, over-the-top Isaiah Mustafa as “Old Spice man” in the Man your man could smell like campaign. The brand recently came up with a number of interesting campaigns, but the social media hangover around this commercial seems to be still working wonders for Old Spice. Take a look.

Social media conversations around Old Spice from 23rd Sep to 15th Oct ‘13We used the webfluenz social media monitoring and intelligence tool to analyze conversations around the brand, and a surprising 43% revolved around its marketing and commercials alone.

That’s close to half of all global conversations, quite a feat for any marketing department. What makes this particularly compelling is that deodorants are a low involvement category.Beyond the interests of hygiene and smelling good, they are not thought to require much research, conversation or debate. Looks like Old Spice is out to change that.

Top ‘Old Spice’ Commercials on Social Media

The social buzz around some of these can be attributed to recency, having being launched in September. This includes three from the campaign with football star Wes Welker – Lizards, Absent and Snow Globe; and one from the brand’s Australia – New Zealand re-launch, starring Isaiah Mustafa and strikingly popular in India Mantastic Man staring Milind Soman .

The Top Three: What Caught Consumer Attention?

1. Mantastic Man

Launched in local language- Hindi, this commercial that caters to the Indian market features a towel-clad Milind Soman, instead of Mustafa.  “We know he’s Mantastic because he says he’s Mantastic. And because he uses Old Spice Deodorant, lives in a fort and did you see that telephone?”

The commercial went highly popular on YouTube after it was launched on 8th October. But that was all for the love of Milind Soman and not many felt that the ad was really funny.



The campaign is further spiced up with Old Spice India Facebook page showcasing Milind Soman with a banner that says he will come back with another video which will be a pleasant surprise.

2. Lizards

A football star misses the second half of his game. Dejected, he takes a whiff of his deodorant and subsequently forgets all his troubles, finding himself in a tropical island paradise. A typical commercial would end there. Instead in the Old Spice commercial the camera pans out, to show Komodo Dragons eating (said footballer) Wes Welker’s legs. This moment, and the unexpectedness and silliness of it all, was what social media loved most.

3. Australia – New Zealand launch


Remarkably, there was no specific thing or part in this commercial that was talked about by a significant number of consumers, except that it featured the “Old Spice man”. It seems like this campaign is riding solely on his, or possibly Isaiah Mustafa’s, popularity.

The Ultimate Ad ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’

The viral success of this campaign is evident, its buzz volumes giving stiff competition to the newer ones even today. Social media loves how funny the “Old Spice man” is, and their favourite part is the unanticipated climax, “I’m on a horse”.

It’s evident what’s working for Old Spice campaigns: humour and surprise.

It’s found a niche – the new commercials are young and fun, steering clear of its previous association with being “old” and “grandfatherly”. In a smart move, it’s also making jokes about being old, and using that to sell a separate “Classic product line (“If your grandfather hadn’t worn it, you wouldn’t exist”). You can read about how to use humour in your content here.

What it’s also pushing, is the association with being manly (“smell like a man, man!”), while avoiding any resemblance to Axe’s (owned by P&G’s biggest competitor, Unilever) brand identity of being sexy and provocative.

Of all conversations that mentioned celebrities, Wes Welker commanded the lion’s share. Surprisingly the “Old Spice man” Isaiah Mustafa lagged behind, coming in after Terry Crews as well, whose last commercial for the brand was in May’13. But, popularity around Milind Soman, picked up quick enough after the mantastic man commercial was launched.

Videos of Terry’s commercials were shared and “liked”, especially “Muscle Music”; with a few even asking when his next ad was coming out.

Though mentions of the “Old Spice man” itself topped those for Wes Welker, only a small proportion of these talked about Isaiah, the man behind it. This can be taken as a good sign for the brand, an indication that these campaigns are not riding on his celebrity status alone (unlike Wes Welker and Terry Crews), but managed to increase recall for the brand itself.

Social Media Reactions: The Good and the Bad

Sentiment breakup for Old Spice marketing & commercials from 23rd Sep to 6th Oct ‘13
Sentiment breakup for Old Spice marketing & commercials from 23rd Sep to 15th Oct ‘13

The sentiment around the marketing was highly positive, with consumers saying they found the commercials funny and entertaining.

“Anything is possible when you’re man smells like old spice and not a lady. I’m on a horse” . Best ad ever — madz (: (@maadddyy_) October 3, 2013

Interestingly, the biggest proportion of negativity stemmed from a factor that also drove high positivity – Wes Welker’s legs being eaten by Komodo Dragons.  People talked about not understanding this, or finding it “weird”.

The Gender Difference

Essentially a product for men, it seems natural that the volume of male authors talking about the brand would be more than the female. However, it is noteworthy that though men had three times more volume, they also liked the commercials less – their positivity is lower and negativity higher.

Sentiment by Gender, around Old Spice marketing & commercials from 23rd Sep to 15th Oct ‘13
Sentiment by Gender, around Old Spice marketing & commercials from 23rd Sep to 15th Oct ‘13

Leveraging Influencers

The social media influence of authors talking about the marketing worked to the brand’s advantage. Given that the most influential would have an Impact Score from 7 to 10, an average score of 4.8 means that these mentions had considerable effect on their social circles.

Influence was a key factor in the campaign of June’10 going viral as well. When users posed questions to the “Old Spice man”, the ones replied to weren’t chosen for quirkiness alone – they were handpicked for maximum social media impact. Iain Tait, Creative Director at Wieden + Kennedy, the agency that spearheaded the project, said “We’re looking at who’s written those comments, what their influence is and what comments have the most potential for helping us create new content.” Source

What Next?

Based on the analysis, here’s what we think Old Spice needs to keep in mind –

  • The success of the Man your man could smell like campaign draws attention to all else the “Old Spice man” does, like the Australian launch, which had no other topics of discussion. But the brand needs to ensure that guaranteed social media interest in him does not let complacency creep in.
  • Humour and surprise are working, but these are qualities hard to attain, especially once consumers start expecting it of the brand. It will need to work hard to ensure freshness and originality in all marketing.
  • The same factor simultaneously drawing high positivity and negativity (Wes Welker’s legs being eaten) shows humour is subjective, personal and contextual. The brand needs to work towards consistently striking the right chord, with the right people.
  • The influence of celebrities (like Wes Welker and Terry Crews) is undeniable. The brand should consider more such campaigns, with influential celebrities doing funny, unexpected things. The introduction of Milind Soman was taken quite positively. What remains to be seen is if this “Old Spice man” becomes as legendary, and if the humour clicks – with a dissimilar audience demographic.
  • Social approval by women is said to influence men’s purchase decisions. And the brand is undoubtedly aware of this – the Man your man could smell like campaign was for a men’s product, but directed at women. Given that conversations by women are now less than one third of that by men, it needs to do more to encourage and engage them.

Note: All data was obtained using webfluenz systems. 

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