Old Spice (a Proctor & Gamble brand) made the smart move in 1997 when they hired Wieden & Kennedy Agency. At the time, the smaller agency collective was just getting known for their daring strategies and ads, the most widely recognized being Nike’s iconic “Just Do It” campaign. The move sent ripples through Madison Avenue as a brand known for it’s conservative approach teamed with a smaller, outrageously bold agency at the time.
Proctor and Gamble was well known for it’s comparative marketing strategies – often elevating their product’s brand through a direct value-to-value war with its competition. For years, they understood that this what made their consumers choose their products from the long line of others on the supermarket shelves. But times have changed how much advertising a consumer sees, and comparative marketing has lost its effectiveness as its been used for far too many products.
Today, one of the best ads we’ve seen from a Procter & Gamble subsidiary has nothing to do with comparison, but rather a more direct appeal to a market that may not even be its end user:
What is it exactly about this commercial campaign that’s met with such great acceptance and acclaim? You might say it’s the comedic value. Or maybe just the fast pacing of the spot – and you’d be right. But it’s much more than that.
Consumer’s today are begging to be engaged, and not “sold”. The actor in this ad speaks directly to the consumer – and in a way that attracts their real market – men. Knowing that women’s attention is often what the men seek, the strategy hits both demographics. The dialogue with YOU immediately establishes rapport – and in the end, a bond with the brand.
It’s also a “real” presentation from a “fake” personality. We all know actors are not real – even the ones that supposedly do “testimonials”. This campaign breaks through that facade, and makes fun of advertising’s often pretentious constructs of what consumer’s “want”. We want reality – not hype. And this spot makes good light of that fact. The actor directs your attention – at such a comical pace that you barely have time to notice the effects cleverly built around him. So much so, that you want to see it again to soak up more details. Isn’t that one of the main goals of great advertising?
Finally, the ad breaks our old perception of “Old Spice” as the conservative de-facto choice of old men. It repositions the product, and the brand in the minds of a younger audience – in a way they relate to as reality. Women relate to the message nearly as much as men do. Men (in this brand’s case) want the attention of the women the ad addresses. Score two for a new demographic market target.
Why point this ad out? Because it breaks the rules – it’s inventive…engaging…and most of all – memorable.
Your marketing should do the same. Be inventive. Be real – and get your message out there in a way that’s unexpected. That’s what it will take to break through the clutter, and truly make a lasting impact for your brand.
What do you think of the campaign? What other campaigns do you think are making a similar impact that you like?
Here’s the second, infinitely more elaborate spot in the now famous series. Check it out: