Procter & Gamble Goes Provocative For Old Spice

In its new campaign, dubbed "Experience is everything," Procter & Gamble targets prospective Old Spice customers in their 'tweens to early 20s with a bit of guidance from the Old Spice men of decades past on women, athletics and other traditional male pursuits like boating and chess.

The campaign is the first from new Old Spice agency Wieden + Kennedy, and broke during the NFL playoffs. It has no doubt been influenced by Unilever's Axe brand.

Past campaigns for Old Spice had a stronger sports theme. This new umbrella campaign introduces tongue-in-check references to the Old Spice of yesterday, and throws in some machismo as well as a few playful, G-rated sexual references.

In the first spot, a middle-aged man delivers the lines: "If you have it, you don't need it. If you need it, you don't have it ... The point is, if you've never had any of it, people just seem to know." The gentleman in the ad, wearing yachting attire with pictures of sailing vessels in the background, is referring to an adult man's experience, while his getup is a nod to vintage Old Spice theme and ads from the 1970s.



Some of the new print ads are a bit more overt, showing a woman licking an ice cream cone and an Old Spice primer on how to unhook a bra.

The new efforts for the Old Spice brand of High Endurance and Red Zone lines of deodorants, antiperspirants, soaps, body sprays and other toiletries have a nodding resemblance to competitive brand Axe.

Unilever's successful brand of deodorant body sprays--the first brand of cologne-like sprays in North America disguised as deodorant--launched in 2001 with an overtly sexual marketing campaign--a consistent theme it still uses.

Some of Unilever's most notable efforts: TV spots on late night showing a sexy woman ravishing a mannequin sprayed with Axe, street teams of "Axe Angels" flirting with young men as they hawk Axe, and undercover Axe girls in bars giving out their numbers, which are really Axe phone lines.

Although P&G's Old Spice has been the most successful in the antiperspirant/deodorant area, it's still struggling to catch up to Axe in the body spray category.

Old Spice High Endurance is the third-largest antiperspirant/deodorant brand, with sales at $63 million for the year ended Dec. 3, per IRI. Old Spice Red Zone brought in sales of $49 million in the same period. That combined $112 million for the Old Spice franchise compares to $36 million for the comparable Axe products.

Body sprays are another story, though--with Axe sales at $71 million versus just $10 million for Old Spice. Tag, another body spray brand introduced by Gillette just prior to P&G's acquisition of the company, brought in $21 million in sales for the year.

The new Old Spice campaign isn't the first time the brand has tried to mix more sexuality with sports. Other Axe-like ads from a few years ago via Saatchi & Saatchi focused on the hips, butt and exposed tummy of sultry-looking woman wearing low-rise, skin-tight leather pants and a tank, seductively gyrating and dancing up a sweat on a dance floor.

That spot, for Old Spice High Endurance antiperspirant/deodorants, which is still used on the Old Spice Web site, uses the tag: "When she sweats it's hot, when you sweat, it stinks."

The site still boasts of various sports involvements, its NASCAR sponsorship, and NASCAR driver Tony Stewart, who also touts the brand.

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