While Old Spice's "Smells Like a Man, Man" viral marketing campaign is an enormous success—the Old Spice Channel on YouTube has received 6,589,665 views and gained 94,580 subscribers—the ad campaign is hardly original. "Smells Like a Man, Man" owes a lot to Dos Equis' celebrated 2009 "Most Interesting Man in the World" campaign, with one catch: Dos Equis's pitchman was appealing to men, while Old Spice is clearly targeting women.
In the much-lauded style of "Chuck Norris Facts," both Dos Equis and Old Spice use a series of over-the-top anecdotes about to describe an incredible man who uses their product. But while the Dos Equis male archetype is a gray-bearded adventurer who rides in the backs of motorboats with beauty queens and plays jai alai like a champ, Old Spice's strapping pitchman, Isaiah Mustafa, directs his pitch at women, asking them to compare him to their man. As Mustafa walks shirtless from one scene to the next, he asks "Do you like a man who smells like he can bake you a gourmet cake in the dream kitchen that he built you with his own hands?"
So why would Old Spice, the brand long known for its classic male fragrance, want to appeal to women? As Andrew Adam Newman of the NY Times explains today, "When the 72-year-old Proctor & Gamble was planning a new advertising campaign for shower gel earlier this year, it faced a challenge: its research suggested women purchase as much as 70 percent of the shower gel for men in their households, but using body wash struck some men as unmanly." Read: Men don't buy "body wash" and they surely don't buy "shower gel." So advertising agency Weiden+Kennedy's challenge became not to make the body wash seem more masculine, but rather to convince more women to buy Old Spice body wash for their significant others. The result? A commercial that plays into stereotypical ideas of what women want from a man.
Perhaps Dos Equis should do a deal with Old Spice for a "Smell Like a Man, Man" commercial in which their buffed-up pitchman Isaiah Mustafa zips off a skin suit to reveal Dos Equis' silver fox. After all, "The Most Interesting Man" deserves the credit.