We all know the insanely popular Old Spice campaign: "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like", then followed by the equally popular Terry Crews campaigns.
Old Spice has figured out a style that just makes their ads go viral.
Here are 3 things we can learn from them.
Lesson #1: Mastering the Art of Absurdity
Old spice commercials are distinctively funny.
When I say funny of course it's a subjective evaluation.
But we can safely say that comedy, humor is always at the core of their ads.
Creating humorous content to promote a brand is not an easy task, but you can create your own recipe.
Old Spice's recipe is based in mastering absurdity.
Here is what they did.
They took a persona we are all familiar with, which the persona of the "masculine man", the "manly man".
All those masculinity traits are then pushed to the maximum like you would max out the contrast on a picture.
We are talking about masculinity beyond what is normal, reasonable, real.
The persona they have created is, therefore, bigger than life and completely absurd.
Peter McGraw's theory of what makes things funny, explains very well Old Spice's recipe.
McGraw explains that what makes something funny is a benign violation.
Basically, you take something normal like "masculinity" and you push it beyond normal.
Once, you have done that it becomes a violation of the norm.
And to make it funny, the situation needs to be benign, meaning harmless, not tragic, and far for us.
This is how you get funny.
And Old Spice has definitely mastered this art
Lesson #2: Read The Sales Data
Old spice is an old brand.
Born in the 30's, they had a difficult time selling to younger generation in the 2000's.
They made their success selling male grooming products.
They wanted to target younger men, but couldn't reinvent themselves really.
The competition was rising (I'll talk about this in lesson #3), and they were seeing their market share shrink.
What was brilliant from P&G (owner of the Old Spice brand), is that did thorough market research before building this campaign.
What they noticed is selling to men and more specifically younger men was completely out of target.
With this research, they realized that 60% of male deodorant purchases were made by women.
And more specifically moms for their teenagers and their husbands.
What was innovative here is that P&G and the agencies working on this campaign took the bet of designing the campaign addressing women.
For the first time in this category, a brand was talking directly to women.
It was innovative, bold but also risky.
Luckily for Old Spice, it paid off and big time.
Lessons #3: Beating Competitors At Their Own Game.
Axe, was a challenger brand that completely overshadowed Old Spice.
Axe was the champion of selling to young men.
And it wasn't just Axe, many new competitors (Dove, Nivea...) entered the male grooming market and specifically male deodorants.
Old Spice needed a wake up call.
What they did then is actually is I think beating Axe at their own game.
Remember when I was talking about mastering humouros absurdity?
Well Axe was the one to master this style first.
Except Axe took the opposite persona.
They took the persona of the "unmanly man", the unattractive, young and not masculine man.
They took that persona and put it in absurd situations where the "unmanly man" becomes suddenly super attractive, and manly.
Old Spice saw that absurdity, absurd humor worked for Axe.
So they kind of "copied" the style, but took an opposite route.
As you know, they took the "super manly man" persona instead.
Old Spice had the intelligence of looking at what worked for a competitor and reinterpret it for their own brand.
Now if you know how proud and competitive marketers can be, doing that so obviously was actually pretty brave from Old Spice.