The Surprising Allure of Old Spice's Muscle Surprise Campaign


By Max

The Surprising Allure of Old Spice's Muscle Surprise Campaign header image

Old Spice. It’s been the butt of jokes for years in stand up, television and movies. In 2001, a line from John Cusack’s rom-com Serendipity went like this:

Jonathan: Maybe I am just getting cold feet.

Dean: I'm telling you right now British women do not age well. Eight years ago she was a luscious treat, you know, she probably looked like, you know, Baby Spice, now she could look like...

Jonathan: Old Spice.

Or, as Bill Maher quipped in 2007:
“New Rule: Old Spice will never be hip. Old Spice has introduced OS fragrance for men. Yes, that same great scent from 1938, now in a spray bottle.”

In short, it was a brand known for appealing to older men.

In 2010, Wieden+Kennedy launched the famous Old Spice ‘Swagger’ campaign, following it up with the unforgettable “The man your man could smell like” campaign with NFL player Isaiah Mustafa stepping out of the shower. All of a sudden, the younger demographic that had eluded Old Spice began to respond. But even the best campaigns get old - and old is not what Old Spice wanted to be.

The most recent campaign produced by Wieden+Kennedy is an online video game which invites users to click on various parts of the body of muscle-bound brand spokesman, former NFL player Terry Crews. If Crews has to say “It’s not weird” - it’s weird.

Does this awkward camping work for the brand's target audience?

Players are invited to “Explore Terry’s Muscles,” and after Terry is through screaming at the screen about how he uses different Old Spice products for different parts of his body, players can open up hatches to view different scenes.

In order to understand how Old Spice’s marketers came up with its new ‘not weird’ advertising idea, we analyzed the brand’s target demographic. Its largest segment (70.2% of their total audience) is composed of young males between the ages of 13 to 24, with ages 18 to 24 comprising nearly 60%.

The Surprising Allure of Old Spice's Muscle Surprise Campaign age graphics

Then we looked at the most compelling interests of this audience. This demographic shows a high interest in gaming - Gaming Activities rank in second place with a relevance score of 145.1%. Entertainment and Media related interests also reach the extremely high numbers of 99.2% and 96.06% among the target.

Old Spice Analysis Campaign_banner

The Surprising Allure of Old Spice's Muscle Surprise Campaign interests table

Drilling down into Media interests of the target market, we see internet websites reaching 89.6% of the audience, with Apps being the most relevant media element with a score of 149.6%.
Apps can tell us which types of content audiences value most, and we found that this demographic uses mobile apps to play with and keep in contact with friends almost constantly. Game apps are in first place, reaching 43.1% of the audience, and Social Networking apps come in second place gathering a 39.49% Reach

The Surprising Allure of Old Spice's Muscle Surprise Campaign analysis table

Given these numbers, Old Spice did well to choose an online game available through both browser and mobile app to connect with its target audience. But what about the theme?

While one might think that this demographic would prefer an action game, when we analyzed their preferred entertainment, we found that Comedy had greater reach (66.3%).

The Surprising Allure of Old Spice's Muscle Surprise Campaign movie table

As the brand’s spokesperson, Kate DiCarlo, says, the campaign was based on the knowledge of Old Spice’s audience and the specific target market they wanted to speak to.

"We know our guys love video games. We know they're spending a lot of time engaging with their friends digitally," DiCarlo says. "But they're also spending a lot of time engaging with brands digitally, so we thought, 'Why not give it a try and turn Terry into a game?'"

Old Spice leveraged their audience’s interests very well, engaging the target with a funny online game and exploiting their attitude toward social networking to increase brand awareness.
The result is that the “Muscle Surprise” video on the Old Spice Facebook page has been shared a staggering 2,688 times. On YouTube it reached 1 million views within the first two weeks.

Weird or not, it works.

Opportunities: Old Spice’s is trying to build its reputation as the “manliest grooming brand in the world” and their spokesmen ooze testosterone in order to achieve that brand image. While Terry Crews perfectly embodies the fun, muscle-bound spirit of the campaign, we wondered if he is the very best spokesman Old Spice could have chosen to catch their target audience’s attention.


To discover which spokesperson would have been an even stronger choice for this campaign, we created a ranking table which compares Terry Crews to 5 other famous actors known for their strong physiques and senses of humor: Dwayne Johnson, Hugh Jackman , Dan Bilzerian, Jason Statham and Channing Tatum.

When ranked by Affinity, Popularity and Penetration, Terry Crews does indeed appear to be the best choice. These numbers show that not only is Terry Crews known and liked among Old Spice’s target demographic, but Terry’s audience is already interested in Old Spice’s products. Together, they build good synergy. However, Terry Crews also has the lowest Reach score of any of these actors.

So we dug deeper and ordered our actors by Relevance - a score which considers every other Cubeyou+ index - to determine if there might be an even better fit.

It turns out that, with a Relevance index of 148.4%, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson may have been the best possible spokesperson for the “Muscle Surprise” campaign. But, Terry Crews came in a close second with a Relevance index of 147.8%.

The Surprising Allure of Old Spice's Muscle Surprise Campaign pages table

Old Spice Analysis Campaign_banner

Topics: Report