YouTube Case Study: Old Spice

How a 75 year-old company stays fresh

by Tara Baboushkin

Organization/background: The Old Spice products were manufactured by the Shulton Company, founded in 1934 by William Lightfoot Schultz. The brand’s first product, Early American Old Spice for women, originated in 1937, and Old Spice for men followed not long after in 1938. In June of 1990, Procter & Gamble purchased the Old Spice product line and now offers a full line of men’s care products, including anti-perspirant, deodorant, body wash, body spray, bar soap, shave gel, and fragrances. The corporate website is:

Business need or problem: Old Spice first launched its body wash in 2003. As the product category grew in popularity, so too did the competition and by 2006, Old Spice was falling in the ranks. In an effort to improve its market standing – and revenues – the company engaged the award-winning advertising agency, Wieden+Kennedy, known for its iconic Nike “Just Do It” and Chrysler “Imported from Detroit” ad campaigns, among many others. Their challenge was twofold: 1) To draw on the long-standing history and expertise of the brand and reposition it to make it relevant to young men; 2) To target both men and women in order to generate conversation about body wash.


Social Media Solution: The solution was the now infamous “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” ad, which features former NFL wide receiver, Isaiah Mustafa, in his new role as the “Old Spice Guy.” In the 30-second ad, which aired on YouTube a few days before the 2010 Super Bowl and then on television the day after the game, the sharp and shirtless Mustafa delivers promises of what’s possible “when your man smells like Old Spice and not a lady.”

Business result: The ad went viral, and the brand along with it. The online and televised ad captured 75% of all conversations in the category. Since its initial launch, the original YouTube ad has been viewed over 45 million times, and is the recipient of the 2010 Cannes Lions Film Grand Prix award and Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Commercial. The colossal success of the “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” ad gave rise to an ongoing social media campaign, which bolstered the company to explosive success. Following the launch of the ad campaign, the company’s sales more than doubled, their website traffic increased by 300%, the Old Spice YouTube channel became the #1 Most Viewed Sponsored YouTube Channel, and Old Spice became the #1 body wash brand for men.

What actually happened: Following the viral success of the original “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” ad, Wieden+Kennedy wanted to find a way to maintain the momentum and keep the conversation going. Their solution was the Response Campaign, in which the Old Spice Guy would respond to questions submitted by fans through a variety of social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter, through a series of YouTube videos.

In less than three days, Wieden+Kennedy filmed over 180 video responses to questions from fans and celebrities, and then posted them on YouTube. Within the first day, the Response Campaign had accumulated 5.9 million views; within one week, the number grew to over 40 million. The brand’s YouTube channel more than doubled from 65,000 to 150,000 subscribers, while their Twitter and Facebook followings soared by 2,700% and 800%, respectively. By the end of July 2010, sales were up 125% year on year, and by the year’s end, Old Spice had become the #1 selling brand of body wash for men in the US.

In May 2013, the company once again leveraged the success of its YouTube campaign and launched two new video ads to sell its latest shave gel products. Together, the two videos totalled over 7.6 million views in just two weeks.

This is a great example of how a company that is over 75 years old can use YouTube as well as other social media platforms to reinvent and sustain itself.

Social Media News: August 30th

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