The Old Spice commercials were a viral sensation, and the Old Spice guy is a celebrity. So why did sales of Old Spice body wash actually drop? Maybe because women are letting men buy their own damn body wash?
According to industry-watching site WARC, the ubiquitous campaign for Old Spice body wash, "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" actually corresponded with below-average sales:
"While there is little doubt about the viral hit's popularity - the official version has racked up 12.2 million impressions on YouTube - sales of Red Zone After Hours Body Wash have fallen by 7%."
The campaign appeared to be aimed at both women and men (the Old Spice Guy addresses "Ladies," but the tagline at the end is, "Smell like a man, man.") The ads were funny, and transcended the viral marketing stigma to become a legitimate hit on blogs and social networks. Surely, an entire new generation was introduced to the brand. So, why the drop in sales? Here are a few theories:
1. The Old Spice ads were so successful in raising brand awareness that no dude wanted to have a bottle of the stuff in his shower. The funny ads actually gave the product embarrassing or negative connotations.
2. The women who were supposed to buy the stuff for their supposedly smelly male significant others were either purchasing other soap products or, more likely, not buying body wash for their dudes at all. Viral internet campaigns usually attract a younger audience, and who would these young women be who were enthusiastically rushing out to the store to buy Old Spice body wash for their boyfriends? Body soap is kind of a personal product, these days. This isn't the fifties.
3. Procter and Gamble can try to sex-ify the Old Spice brand any way they want, but a lot of us are still going to forever associate it with our fathers (and grandfathers) and stay as far away as possible. It doesn't help that it actually has "Old" in the name! Gross.
Campaigns Struggle To Mix Awards With ROI [WARC via Slate's Twitter]