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Old Spice’s Rebranding Success Story

Updated: Oct 5, 2019

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Tales of rebranding success stories are few and far between, which is what makes the successful ones worth heralding. In an article entitled Which social media marketing lessons can we learn from Old Spice’s rebranding campaign found on the writer Soraya Steen discusses in detail the challenges Old Spice faced and the steps they took to rebrand themselves and establish themselves amongst a younger market. Soraya writes, how in 2010 Old Spice introduced a new campaign after decades of the same message. The 75 year old company was able to use social media to reinvent and sustain itself.

Old Spice has been a recognized men’s brand since 1938. In the early 2000’s the brand started offering body wash for men. By early 2000’s the brand was synonymous with older men. Soraya writes that the brand was known as the brand your grandfather smelled like. This association with an older demographic made it hard for them to reach individuals younger than 50. By 2009 other competing brands had gotten into male body wash causing their sales to decline further. One of their main competitors was Dove Men+Care.

The article discusses how in 2010 Unilever announced that they would be rolling out a huge campaign which would be aired during the Super Bowl. Old Spice needed to respond in kind in order to keep the market share they already had. The company decided they would try to create excitement among younger target groups, and seek to win the buzz during the Super Bowl and increase their market shares.

Soraya writes that the three objectives for the Old Spice campaign were:

Appeal their product to a younger target group.Win the battle in the buzz with Dove; they needed a campaign that was exciting for the target audience to buy Old Spice body wash instead of Dove Men+Care.Encourage the body wash sales and to gain a bigger share in the market.

A part of the rebrand was to remove the stigma of the product smelling like your grandfather. They sought to do so by recruiting a famous face for their campaign Isaiah Mustafa, and the slogan of the campaign was ‘Smell like a man, man’. Mustafa was a great choice for the campaign and was able to connect to a younger audience. Soraya writes, “Old Spice re-positioned itself in the market as a brand associated with legacy and confident young men.”

Even with a new face for the brand, it was still going to be a challenge to compete with Unilever’s paid advertisement spot during the Super Bowl. Old Spice decided they would air their commercials during Super Bowl weekend but not during Super Bowl. They began by airing their commercials a few days prior to the Super Bowl on YouTube, and Facebook in an attempt to create a buzz. They also targeted the fact that people love Super Bowl commercials and that many people would be searching for previous Super Bowl commercials in the days leading up. They targeted these individuals by using words such as ‘Commercial Super Bowl’ to drive searches and to become synonymous with Super Bowl commercials without actually advertising during the Super Bowl. They then began advertising 24 hours following the Super Bowl causing people to assume that the commercial first aired during the Super Bowl.

The commercials were such a success and generated such a buzz that they quickly created a response campaign to keep the conversation going. The response campaign had Mustafa recording personal videos for fans who responded to the social media outlets for Old Spice including YouTube.

Soraya writes that the rebrand and advertising campaign was a huge success so much so that their YouTube video received 10 million views for the initial commercial which is 10 times more than amount of viewers who watched the Dove commercial. Soraya writes that “their sales exceeded the expectations. By May of 2010 the Old Spice unit sales had increased with 60% and by July of that year the sales had increased more than doubled compared to the previous year.” The key for Old Spice was that they were able to create an interesting message that connected with their intended audience. They also used social media skillfully to become associated with the Super Bowl without having to pay to advertise during the Super Bowl.

It is clear that Old Spice had a successful rebrand. We are not sure what their process was in terms of market research. Our online community software can help companies with rebranding by creating discussion boards where members can react to initial concepts and ideas.  Online Communities allow companies to not only test concepts with their target audience, but engage in co-creation and refinement of those ideas.  Successful rebrands require planning, testing, and retesting to be sure that your campaign connects the way in which you want.

If you have any questions or would like a demo concerning our online community software please feel free to contact us.

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