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Smell Like A Man


One of the most talked about advertising campaigns right now is the Old Spice Man, starring the sculpted former NFLer Isaiah Mustafa . But it’s not your grandfather’s Old Spice campaign, as there’s a highly interactive – and addictive – online push (a combination of viral video, Twitter feed and Facebook page) to support the non-sequitur TV spots.

And while Old Spice, along with agency Wieden + Kennedy, has received great reviews and tons of coverage I can’t help but what wonder, not only is the campaign working, but are the ads successful in presenting the image of Old Spice as a body wash and not a deodorant?

We all have those certain products that we make a specific, special connection with – most likely attached to a certain period in our lives when we first used/purchased that particular product. For me, Old Spice is one of those products. I use Old Spice mainly for one reason: my dad uses Old Spice. 

I remember being a kid, in suburban Long Island (years before moving to plush NJ) and my dad going to Greg Buttle’s Gym. For those of you who don’t know, Buttle was a linebacker for the Jets in the late ’70s/early ’80s and he opened up a gym near my town. My dad would drop me off with all the other kids, where we would run around, while he would work out. After his workout, often times he would shower and I would smell the deodorant – obviously not knowing what deodorant was at 5 years old. All I knew was that this was a much better smell than the stuff he put on after he played his weekly softball games (that would be BenGay).

And like most 5-year olds, I mimicked my dad – a pattern that would continue to develop to this day. So when it was time for me to start using deodorant, it was a pretty easy choice. Granted, I did have those times in the early ’90s when I was peer pressured to using spray deodorant or that awful gel deodorant, but for the most part, I have used Old Spice since those first armpit hairs marked my entry into puberty.

Now, I can’t recall seeing or hearing Old Spice commercials from when I was a kid, but I’m pretty sure that when it comes to purchase decisions in my family, ads were not the reason we bought a product. Even now, I don’t buy a product based on a commercial: instead I do research, I ask friends/family if they own the product, I even now ask a wider network via social media. But for me, it comes down to that emotional appeal. Do I love the product?

There are certain products that have other factors. Big ticket items come to mind. My eyes can’t tell the difference between a Samsung or a Sharp HD TV. My ears can’t tell the difference between Bose or Seinheiser headphones. In these situations, price plays a larger role compared to those other daily purchases. 

However, there are those products that I can’t live without. Old Spice deodorant is one of them because I wanted to smell like a man…my dad.

What products have that emotional connection for you? 

About joshsternberg

Josh Sternberg is the content strategist for The Washington Post. Prior to that he was the media reporter for Digiday. Additional bylines include: The Atlantic, The Awl, Pacific Standard, Mashable, Huffington Post, Mediaite.


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