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June 30, 2010

Wieden ads put Old Spice back in touch with its seafaring roots

Posted on Wed Jun 30 2010

If you've seen the Old Spice ads featuring a swarthy and shirtless ex-football pro Isaiah Mustafa, you've seen the latest hot dude sending the message you can blame Axe for telling not-so-hot dudes back in 2005: Psst, dudes, if your armpits smell good, you'll get some. But enough of that. Look a bit more closely at these spots from Wieden + Kennedy and you'll see something else at work: The crafty return of a device that built Old Spice into one of the first dude brands of the 20th century: the ocean.


  From its beginnings in 1938, Old Spice rested heavily on nautical imagery and everything it represented—cool breezes, brave seafarers, freedom and adventure. Back when consumers weren't as cynical as they are now, the brand could use this iconography literally. The package had a clipper ship on it and a buoy-shaped bottle inside. Old Spice's 1953 jingle—a shameless ripoff of the bagpipe melody "Scotland the Brave"—opened with a "Yo ho!" and featured the line: "Old Spice means quality, said the captain to the bosun. So, look for the package with the ship that sails the ocean!"
  This salt-water stuff worked until roughly 1990, when Procter & Gamble bought the brand and apparently figured that mustachioed sailors in tight white pants presented a few marketing problems. In the ensuing years, a yacht replaced the clipper ship on the box, while racecar drivers, prizefighters and even gladiators replaced the able-bodied seamen in the advertising.
  But guess what, capt'n? Old Spice has gone back to sea. Wieden's much-touted spot "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" (which won a Grand Prix at Cannes on Saturday), featured Mustafa on the teak deck of sailing ship, then holding an oyster, and then riding a white horse on a beach. In the latest effort, "Questions" (above), our hero is back in the surf, walking on water in a pair of khaki highwaters. Oh yeah, and the whistled jingle at the end? Looks like "Scotland the Brave" is back, too. Yo ho!

—Posted by Robert Klara


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