Not long ago I wrote about how much I like the current wry ad campaigns from Old Spice and Dos Equis. As anyone who was around the Web at all this week knows, Old Spice has now blown the doors off with its on-the-fly series of video responses to people on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, YouTube, and elsewhere.
What amazed me was not only that a major consumer-products company like Procter & Gamble would go for this kind of campaign, but that the team behind it would handle the process so deftly. The dozens and dozens of short videos they produced this week were consistently funny (frequently hilarious), often surrealist and bizarre, and stupendously successful in pretty much every way. Actor Isaiah Mustafa, who plays the impossibly handsome shirtless Old Spice Guy, walked the razor's edge of deadpan self-parody with the skill of Peter Sellers—and apparently often did it in one take.
There has, so far, been no cynical backlash online, which I find astonishing. I wrote myself on Twitter that I want to go buy something from Old Spice now, even if I never use it, simply to reward the group of people who made the last couple of days of my chemo recovery more pleasant with so much funny stuff.
My guess is that sales of their products will skyrocket, and deservedly so. Most interesting, they haven't changed Old Spice itself at all: Procter & Gamble still sells the classic-scent aftershave, along with a few different scents in different sorts of grooming products that they've introduced over the past couple of decades. They're still using the same whistled jingle, even.
The transformation is entirely in how they present the brand, and how we buyers have come to think of it as a result. A decidedly uncool, old-man's aftershave that none of us really thought much about has turned into The Thing That Won The Internet, mostly by making fun of itself and the style of its own macho-manly ads of 30 or 40 years ago.
Marketing and advertising people the world over have surely been standing, mouths agape, at that transformation. And wondering what on earth Old Spice will do next.