Old Spice’s “Smell Like a Man, Man” campaign just turned 10. A decade of spicy and viral influence that has grown only sensually and exponentially over the last 10 years. 

Wieden+Kennedy Portland, which crafted the original campaign back in 2010, has held intact the storyboard of the very masculine athlete who employed subtle yet self-deprecating machismo to turn around the narrative of the Procter & Gamble brand — one from after-shaves for funny, middle-aged dads to chic body washes and edgy styling stuff for millennial men.   

The newest Old Spice campaign doesn’t break the mould, with the original Old Spice guy, Isaiah Mustafa, a former NFL athlete, manning two commercials the company has released today. Mustafa is the dad and a cringe-inducing one to boot as he barges in, bare-chested, on his 20-something son who’s at his office playing hoops with his friends.   

This next-gen Old Spice man is Keith Powers, who proved his creds in the movie, Straight Outta Compton, and the TV series What/If. Powers plays a (politically correct) sensitive male role, given the times, and vouches for Old Spice’s new, milder Ultra Smooth line.    

In a bizarre move, in “Time Out”, the Old Spice dad sports hockey skates on Old Spice junior’s hoops court, while in “Office Visit”, he comes in, even more bizarrely, log-rolling out of the lift to intrude on his young son’s big meeting.    

In both the stories, old man is batting for legacy Old Spice scents, Old Spice After Hours, and Old Spice Fiji. Junior, who has chosen Ultra Smooth for himself, says, “I’m not like you, dad.”

Mustafa has been synonymous with Old Spice and fits in perfectly with “the man your man could smell like” line. With research-based evidence that women accounted for over 60 percent of body wash purchases, Wieden+Kennedy grabbed that positioning to strategic advantage.

The campaign stormed the viral sweepstakes ahead of its Super Bowl broadcast debut and created advertising history. In fact, the first “Smell Like a Man, Man” spot grabbed as many as 3 million YouTube views in the two weeks after its release. At the time of writing, first-campaign views stood upwards of 100-odd million, give or take a few million!

A vintage 1963 Old Spice print ad released in the United States.

Now, let’s cut back to over a decade ago.

By April of 2011, a little after the campaign was launched, “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” had clocked more than 10 million views, an astounding 10X times the number of views for Dove’s Super Bowl commercial!

The “Response” campaign then fetched some extraordinary statistics. Let’s have a quick look:

  • On Day 1, the campaign got 5.9 million YouTube views, far more than President Barack Obama’s victory speech after 24 hours. (Source: Visible Measures)
  • On Day 2, Old Spice had as many as 8 out of the top 11 most popular videos on the internet. (Source: Visible Measures)
  • By Day 3, the campaign soared beyond 20 million YouTube views.
  • A week after launch, the video garnered more than 40 million views.
  • On Twitter, followers increased by a mind-boggling 2700%.
  • Facebook fan likes and comments went up 800%.
  • Facebook fans came in their droves, increasing 60% (from 500,000 to 800,000).
  • YouTube subscribers for Old Spice rose from 65,000 to 150,000.
  • On Oldspice.com itself, traffic rose 300%.
  • Old Spice had become the No.1 ‘All-Time Most Viewed’ and No. 2 ‘Most Subscribed Branded Channel’ on YouTube.
A 1978 Old Spice ad for Old Spice’s musk fragrance.

The old, Old Spice

It was in 1937 that the first Old Spice product, called ‘Early American Old Spice’ for women, was launched, followed by Old Spice for men in 1938. Founded by William Lightfoot Schultz, the original scent for Old Spice was apparently inspired by his mother’s Potpourri recipe. In fact, the first fragrance Schultz launched was, interestingly, “lady-scented for ladies”, which was a no-show, following which he launched the new “Old Spice” for men.

Procter & Gamble

In June 1990, Procter & Gamble bought the Old Spice fragrances, skin care and antiperspirant, and deodorant brands from the Shulton company. Thereafter, and through the 2000s, Procter & Gamble launched a variety of deodorant, body washes, and body sprays under the Old Spice brand name.