Q&A: What’s an Example of a Risky Marketing Campaign that Paid Off?
The Smell Like a Man, Man Old Spice Campaign. It’s weird, irrelevant, and completely inimitable:
Look at your man.
Now back to me. Now back at your man. Now back to me.
Sadly, he isn’t me.
But if he stopped using lady scented body wash…
…and switched to Old Spice, he could smell like he’s me.
Look down. Back up. Where are you?
You’re on a boat with the man your man could smell like.
What’s in your hand? Back at me.
I have it.
It’s an oyster with two tickets to that thing you love.
Look again. The tickets are now diamonds.
Anything is possible when your man smells like Old Spice and not a lady.
I’m on a horse.”
The initial commercial took three days of shooting to achieve a perfect single take for the 30-second ad. Old Spice took a risk, and it paid off. You may be thinking, “That’s not risky. That ad is hilarious, of course it did well.”
Not necessarily. Old Spice’s Smell Like a Man, Man campaign was more than a marketing experiment. It was a complete reinvention of the brand.
Old Spice’s core demographic in 2010 was the conservative, white, middle-aged man. I can
just imagine the initial reaction when Wieden+Kennedy, the ad agency behind the campaign, pitched the idea of a half-naked man enticing married women to buy their product.
Think of other brand reinvention campaigns. Remember “Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile,” a campaign directed at targeting the car to a younger, hipper consumer base? If not, you aren’t missing much. The campaign is generally regarded as the death gasp of the brand’s image and failed for two main reasons:
- It alienated its customer base. It dismissed the old generation of Oldsmobiles as uncool while associating that negative perception with its own customers.
- It tore down its old brand without attempting to build anything in its place. We knew what Oldsmobiles weren’t, but we never got what they were.
“Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile” is just one example of rebranding gone wrong, but it’s not the only one. New Coco-Cola, Comcast’s Xfinity, and Radio Shack’s “The Shack” were all
flops from a marketing standpoint.
In short, rebranding campaigns are risky but can pay off if done right.