Old Spice: Repositioning Old to the Young

Old Spice

Old Spice only rethought its target audience and the language it would use to reach them making it more relevant

William Lightfoot Schiltz established Old Spice in 1934, and since then, the brand has left an indelible mark on customers. Interestingly, they debuted with women’s products in 1937 and then expanded into men’s the following year. Among men’s shaving soaps and aftershave lotions, Old Spice has been a mainstay for over half a century. A whopping $300 million was the price that Procter & Gamble (P&G) paid in 1990 to buy Old Spice.

The Issues

Old Spice was seen by the public as a dull brand catering to males of an old/older generation. That doesn’t mean it was all negative; in fact, it left a wonderful legacy and had some redeeming qualities. However, it became stale and lacked any distinctive selling points that would attract the younger generations, who were crucial to the company’s survival in the market.

Old Spice seemed fuddy-duddy when it was not, and she did not want to be seen that way either. It needed to reach out to other demographics, but it wasn’t sure how. Or, to put it another way, it couldn’t have been done any better than the competitors. Consequently, a major correction was required.

Finding a Resolution

To maintain its place in the market, Old Spice had to change to attract a younger audience. Changing their focus to people between the ages of 13 and 34 was crucial to this change. Recognising that their “old man” image was limiting them, P&G sought to engage with the pre-adult generation to bring about change.

This daring rebranding initiative was the result of the Wieden & Kennedy “Old Spice Swagger” campaign. The campaign’s use of personality and comedy to connect with the new demographic was a smashing success, tripling sales. This also made “Be Like a Man, Man” possible. (For more on the campaign visit – https://onlykutts.com/index.php/2021/10/31/iconic-ads-old-spice-smell-like-a-man-man/)

A turning point in their rebranding process occurred when market research by Wieden and Kennedy showed that women accounted for half of the body wash sales. The “The Man Your Man Can Smell Like” advertisement, which featured Isaiah Mustafa, was a perfect chance for Old Spice to take advantage of. This witty commercial depicted a variety of desires while playfully challenging the idea of “lady-scented” body wash.

The revised personality of Old Spice, which embraced comedy and unashamed boldness, was at the heart of this metamorphosis. Throughout their advertising, website content, and communication platforms, they embraced a voice that challenged traditional ideas of masculinity. By providing advice, recommendations, and guidelines, their message approach served to uphold stereotypically masculine values. All aspects of the Old Spice brand, including packaging, website material, and more, were designed with this strategy in mind. Using a distinct voice, historical design aspects, and graphics to promote conventional ideas of manliness, the brand’s message offered advice on how to be more manly.

Notable Outcomes

The rebranding was a smashing success; it altered the public’s opinion of the brand dramatically. Specifically, the first 30-second advertisement catapulted Old Spice from boring and missable to sudden online stardom.

The data supports this, as one would expect. Both Old Spice’s web visibility and sales numbers increased dramatically. Old Spice eventually became a recognisable brand; the staid reputation it had been known for was supplanted with a more modern, amusing, and lively one.

  • A quarter of a million dollars more was paid out.
  • The brand’s advertising efforts were nominated for an Emmy and won awards at major festivals, including Cannes Lions.
  • Their YouTube videos reached a massive audience.
  • Increases in social media followers were substantial.
  • A significant increase in website traffic was seen.
  • Among men’s body washes Old Spice quickly rose to the top.

This remarkable brand transformation demonstrates the power of a well-planned repositioning campaign. For other companies that want to succeed in today’s market, Old Spice is a model of how to reinvent themselves.

The success that Old Spice has had in recent years is directly attributable to its ability to anticipate and respond to shifting consumer tastes.


  • We must take into account the fact that the Old Spice product and its range saw little changes. Their product range and offerings were not differentiated, and there was no large-scale product development. They didn’t bring anything new to the table or cause any waves in the market.
  • The company only rethought its target audience and the language it would use to reach them. All they did was discover a different group of people to talk to and a different way to express themselves to them.
  • Their use of language and personality made the brand more relatable to their new audience, which in turn changed how their target demographic and the market saw the company.




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