Thursday, August 5, 2010

A breath of fresh…Old Spice

What product in the world could be more tired than Old Spice after shave? It’s been around since 1938, and the biggest impression it has ever made on me is its iconic milky white bottle. Until recently.

Now, I have the Old Spice whistle as a ring tone, alerting me to incoming calls from my husband. It’s all thanks to the New Old Spice guy, who has become an instant phenomenon. Instead of skipping past his commercials, millions of people are watching them again and again on YouTube. He’s even making custom YouTube videos for his fans. Variety calls it “…the viral ad campaign you wished your viral ad campaign would look like.”

What could have been just another paying gig has taken former NFL player Isaiah Mustafa from soap operas to the big screen. He was recently cast in "Horrible Bosses," alongside some big names in Hollywood: Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, and Kevin Spacey.

What accounts for the immediate embrace of “this man your man could smell like”? My vote is serendipity. No focus group or demographic study or advertising strategy could be that clever. I much prefer the story going around that the night before the shoot, Isaiah called one of his pals and left a message on his answering machine – and, in doing so, he decided to play up the Old Spice guy to the Nth degree.

And a star was born.

As much as I love the commercials-- and the guy -- I love the spontaneous combustion of dusty old product stereotypes when ignited by pure inspiration.

The new Old Spice guy. Everyone gets him – immediately.

You never know when a fickle public will move on to the next media star. What happens to a has-been GEICO gecko, Aflac duck, or the Snapple lady?

For now, at least, the public is gaga over a cool dude wearing little else than tight abs and a little Old Spice. That's enough to make me whistle.

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