There's a problem with Old Spice and it has to do with its incredibly successful advertising campaign. Yes, the campaign is witty, fun, and a great conversation piece. Lots of people seem to enjoy talking about it as much as they enjoy seeing it, and the main man in the ads is easy on the eyes. The problem? Despite all the buzz, sales are down for Old Spice, not up, as people would assume.
Initially, this may be surprising to some people, but really, it's not when you think about. Here are a few essential issues with this campaign:
1- It puts men down.
Most people don't respond well to ads that call them pansies and then tells them to buy their products. This sort of negative messaging doesn't sit well with the target audience. A lot of people are laughing at these ads, and they're mostly women. Men, on the other hand, are usually quietly seething when they see the ads or their eyes glaze over with indifference because the message does not reinforce their own idea of their individual awesomeness as males. Just as women don't respond well to makeup ads that tell them they're ugly, men don't respond well to the ads that call them pansies. Women ads are all about enhancement of their assets, whether it's long lash mascara or push-up bras. Men's ads are generally the same.
The simplest ad campaigns that pump up men are the best: smell great, get the hot girl. That's pretty much all they want.
2- It's got a reputation for being old.
It's called Old Spice. In a culture that is youth-obsessed and where all the major marketing demographics are squarely in the pubescent phases, something called Old will not do well. It doesn't take market analysts or psychologists to figure this one out. Old Spice could do with a name change that would make it more marketable. They could even come out with New Old Spice. This idea would probably go further than the "hey loser" campaign that's currently being used.
3- The image needs to be sexier.
The image of the product needs to be sexier, not the man in the ads. We already know he's hot. The problem with perfume and deodorant ads are that they are the only ads that cannot clearly demonstrate their direct benefits and instead promise you something less tangible, like maintaining a certain image or gaining a certain sex appeal. When you advertise laundry detergent, you can demonstrate its cleaning power through a simulated wash and compare it with other brands. You can't do the same with something that you need to smell because we can't smell through our TVs- yet.
Perfume companies get around this by creating artistic, avant garde, usually existentialist, ads that are reeking of sex appeal. They create an image of luxury, opulence and desire and that's their selling point. There is none of that with the Old Spice campaign and without a serious revamping of their image, there won't be.
Maybe Old Spice wants to keep the feel good PG factor of its products and that's just fine as well. They just have to do it in a more effective way so that the audience is engaged and buys into the concept, rather than insulted and bored. But like the guy at the party who prefers to be the class clown rather than the stud, Old Spice could be the one that nobody goes home with at the end of the night.