“Hello ladies”, he said, in a voice like chocolate poured over gravel, and a hundred thousand women around the world sat up in attention. I’m talking here, of course, not about the ridiculously wantable Brad Pitt, but about the Old Spice man. The Man our men could never ever be like, even if they took a crash course.
Watch the "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" video (the latest one is at the bottom, but don't jump there just yet)
But while the rest of my uterus-bearing kind were busy gaping at the chiseled body of Isaiah Mustafa, I was staring into space (which is not to say that I didn’t gape at him at all, come on, have you seen him?)
No, I was staring because my ears had perked up for an entirely different reason.
See, so far, I’ve had a sneaky suspicion that whenever a beauty product for women is advertised, it’s done keeping in mind a male audience. Oh, we can hem and haw and shake our heads all we want, but let’s face it. No woman in the history of the world has slathered on moisturizer slowly and sexily in the privacy of her bedroom. Particularly when she’s still damp from her bath and it’s a freezing Delhi winter morning outside. I’m sure the same can be said of soap commercials too. When you have roughly eight minutes to take a shower, get dressed and run out of your house to catch the Churchgate fast, you’re not really foaming yourself in slow motion and losing yourself in the dreamy, exotic fragrance of whatever the hell they’ve told you your soap contains. No, women do all these things in TV commercials so that guys don’t switch the channel during the break.
But with Old Spice, here at last was a commercial for a product aimed at men, which spoke to their women instead. It was funny, it was clever, it was charming. If it was a man, it would be Mr. Right. Known henceforth, of course, as the Old Spice man.
And it wasn’t just the women who noticed that. The campaign picked up the goods at Cannes and just when you thought “I’m sitting on a horse” was as good as it would get, up popped the new round of viral videos. One-set wonders the lot of them, proving to us that you don’t need to shoot in South Africa or go to London for the special effects, to make a brand message that gets people’s attention. And affection too, judging from all the tweets @oldspice is getting.
Each tweet provides the writers with material for the next customised viral video. In a nutshell then, here is a campaign that’s low budget, high on insight, entertaining, has great repeat viewing value and sustains itself entirely on the basis of user generated content. (Translation: Creatives happy, servicing happy, planners happy, client happy.) Not just that, in the new round of virals, Old Spice has also cross-promoted its sister concern Gillette and even raised the talkability bar by doing video responses to tweets from celebrities like Alyssa Milano, Rose McGowan and Demi Moore. And they’ve done all that in a bathroom!
But you know what really kills me? It’s not the ‘wish-I’d-done-this’ bit. Well, yes, that too, but what’s really kicking me in the pants is that this is pure, 100% legit brand work. It’s not TV, it’s not press, it’s not proactive. But it’s brilliant, it’s working and I’d bet good money that it’ll knock the socks off everyone come awards season.
Vedashree Khambete is an ACD with Mudra, a writer at heart and a coffee-addict by vocation.