Brand in Focus – Old Spice

Due to our poll results, the first Brand in Focus write-up for Shore Branding will be on Old Spice.  From time to time we’ll be focusing on a brand or company that is producing quality branding material online/offline and building engagement with consumers.  We will dig a little deeper into those efforts to see what helped drive the brand forward and compare them across social media platforms.

Approximately ten years ago Old Spice had just begun to turn the corner and away from its archaic image as an after shave and cologne exclusive business.  After acquiring Old Spice in 1990, P&G struggled to move the needle and change the image of the brand to attract new users and a younger demographic.  P&G started to stretch the Old Spice name into the deodorant category and has since moved it further into the body spray and body wash markets.

These brand extensions have helped grow the brand and its user base, but it wasn’t exclusively because of moving into the right category at the right time.  Old Spice has done a terrific job with their online / digital marketing and has completely shifted the image from your grandfather’s cologne to a hip/young/cool persona.  How and where did the brand do this?  Let’s take a look:

First, visiting Old Spice’s own web page, you see that they have links to their Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages.  This is where we’ll largely focus for this write-up.


Old Spice’s Twitter feed has been driving engagement for years now.  With over 200K followers, the brand has used the platform across its campaigns to carry out the young, humorous image it has looked to project.  You may remember Isaiah Mustafa from ads earlier this decade (and prior), with the brand using their Twitter feed to end his run of marketing for the brand.

What happened to catch my eye is what you don’t see on Old Spice’s Twitter feed that might allow the brand to go even further in driving consumer engagement – direct, public responses to consumers.  The only time you see tweets to another person/feed is seemingly in the midst of a campaign push – for example, on March 13th this year, their WolfDog character (more on him later) took questions and responded directly to others.

Old Spice 1

Old Spice 2

Twitter –> Vine:

Perhaps in an effort to branch out a bit, the Old Spice team created a separate Twitter account for one of their new marketing initiatives built around WolfDog.  Along with this, the Old Spice marketing team has shown the ability to grow/adapt with the times and the growing popularity of micro-video and has included several (hysterical) Vine videos as well:


It was a bit surprising to see “only” 200K+ followers on Twitter and then 2.5 million on the brand’s Facebook page.  Generally speaking, engagement levels seem to be much stronger on Facebook than on Twitter, even taking into account the disparity in followers on both platforms.*  Many of the posts on Facebook get 1,000+ Likes, ~100 shares, and a good number of comments.

*Here, I have simply taken 10% or so of the amount of feedback on Facebook and eyeballed that number to the number of RT’s and comments on Twitter posts.  It is pretty clear that Facebook is more engaging right now for the brand.

Old Spice 3

Facebook –> Instagram:

Given the use of Vine, I checked to see how active Old Spice was on Instagram and it doesn’t seem to suggest there is much engagement here.  With 116 posts, the page only has ~17K followers.  Also note that to this point, albeit just several weeks into its infancy stage, there are no micro-videos on the Old Spice page via Instagram. 


This has been Old Spice’s crown jewel (in my opinion).  While the number of followers/subscribers doesn’t match Facebook’s (which shouldn’t be surprising), Old Spice’s YouTube page has over 365K subscribers, putting the brand just outside of the top 1,000 channels on YouTube (according to this page).

However, YouTube has been a goldmine for the brand over the years.  Old Spice has carried over its TV advertisements to the page, but has also released unique/exclusive online content here as well.  Since going “viral” after their “Smell like a man, man” Super Bowl ad in 2010, the YouTube page has been a must-look-at from time to time.

The ads have been seen/shown millions of times over in the past few years.  More recent ads are well over 1 million views already, illustrating the brand’s continued successes.

Old Spice 4

Overall Summary:

Since going “viral”, Old Spice has been churning through a number of successful characters and athletes in their ads.  After Isaiah Mustafa (and a brilliant, yet bizarre mini-campaign with Fabio), the brand has turned to current and past NFL players, including Greg Jennings, Ray Lewis, and Terry Crews.  Crews has been in a number of the most recent ads which have racked up the views on YouTube.

The branding efforts have completely turned around a once dying iconic brand name.  Old Spice’s ability to completely change consumers’ perceptions of what the brand is and what it stands for is a great case study for marketers.  Their use of social media platforms has absolutely helped revitalize the franchise and drive new users towards its products.

What do you think of Old Spice’s digital strategy?  What have you liked or disliked across its campaigns?

Here are a few closing pieces of information.  This SlideShare provides a great overview/summary from the Isaiah Mustafa campaigns run by Old Spice:

Finally, who doesn’t love WolfDog?

  • Miles Hobson

    A very thorough write up John, Old Spice have not only done well to refresh their brand image but have continued to keep it that way with a constant stream of new ads and characters. Do you think brands such as Old Spice and Lynx (I believe the name Axe is used in the USA) create comical ads in order to attract customers from a young age in a hope that they will then stick with the brand? Or do you think that the slightly silly ads are appealing to all ages?

  • John

    Thanks Miles!

    Not to cop out of a answer, but I do believe the answer is “Yes” to both of your questions. There is an element of driving both trial and loyalty to the comical ads. Attracting consumers at a young (or the right) age is obviously critical. The most obvious examples of this are cereals and companies like McDonalds. While they take a little bit of flack from time to time for appealing to younger ages, it clearly works.

    The ads, Old Spice, Axe, and many others don’t have to appeal to everyone nor will they. Each brand is going to hit some bumps in the road. It is how they respond to those bumps that is important. There’s also the adage of “there’s no such thing as bad press”. While I don’t completely agree with that, the buzz that campaigns like Old Spice’s creates (even from those that don’t like the ad) is worth something.

    Thanks again, I’m going to pose this question to anyone else reading here to get their thoughts as well. ?