We recently discussed whether or not sex sells in the media, and Old Spice was a major part of this conversation. Just a few days after our discussion, Old Spice released five short ads on YouTube, all of which will air on TV next week. While these ads do have some subtle sexual aspects (the main character is an attractive guy with an unbuttoned shirt and one of them features a bikini-clad blonde), I wouldn’t say that the ads are using sex to sell.
Instead of focusing on sex, the ads feature some pretty absurd situations: a bear with an incredibly long tongue, a man growing out of a tree stump and a coconut turning into a tiny TV. Old Spice seems to have decided to emphasize the quirky and humorous aspects of their brand in this “Smell as Great as Nature is” campaign. In my opinion, this set of ads has less of a sexual theme than those featuring the shirtless guy fresh out of the shower encouraging guys to “smell like a man”.
The AdWeek article mentions that Old Spice did a bit of market research, finding that nature scents were soothing and made men feel masculine. Maybe this is the sole reason that Old Spice took the nature route instead of a sexy one. However, as I argued in a previous post, it seems that brands (at least those airing Super Bowl commercials) have realized that sex may not sell as much as they previously believed. Old Spice may be testing its ability to sell on quirky, creative and humorous ads instead of sex. Perhaps other brands should do the same.