Add a bit of Old Spice!

May 24th, 2019  •  2 minute read

How a brave rebrand can reinvigorate your business.

Old Spice.

One man. One horse. One soap.

The now iconic advert was part of Old Spice’s incredibly successful rebranding programme. But little do people know, the rebrand actually started long before Isaiah Mustafa sat towel-clad on a pony.

The unsung hero of Old Spice’s triumphant return to our shelves was actually the 2008 ‘Swagger’ campaign by Wieden + Kennedy. Now ten years on, let’s look back on how their brave rebrand saved the company.

Founded in 1938, Old Spice was first packaged as a sophisticated brand for older gentlemen — the ex-military kind who attended tea dances and drank whiskey on the rocks. But in the years that followed, the brand became associated with elderly men instead. It was losing traction in the market. Men, particularly young men, just weren’t buying it. Too middle-aged and too middle-class, it didn’t appeal to the mass market. Frankly, nobody wanted to smell like their Grandad.

In response, Old Spice created the ‘1–800-PROVE-IT’ campaign in 2007. Focussed primarily on the body-odour busting properties of their products, the campaign flunked. Science, logic and practicality weren’t shifting sticks, cans and bottles off the shelves.

So, they changed tack. They needed a complete rebrand. And it had to be emotive.

From that insight, the ‘Swagger’ campaign was born.

They didn’t just create an advert. They changed their positioning, audience, identity — almost everything except their name.

Targeting a new customer base of 12– 34-year-olds, they took all of the seriousness out of the brand. The ‘Swagger’ campaign was about being cool, fun and male.

Coupled with a genius marketing stunt in which men uploaded their photos to and a series of searchable articles were generated describing how brilliant they were, a real buzz was starting to build around the brand.

Old Spice, with 70 years of brand heritage, was already synonymous with manliness. They just modernised their message. They’re not only experts on how to be a man. They can turn anyone, even nerds and geeks, into sexy studs.

The sales of their Swagger scent quadrupled during the first year of sale. Quadrupled!

Two years later, the viral “Man you wish your man could smell like” ad came out. But by then the hard work had been done behind the scenes repositioning their brand and reinventing their identity.

If they’d stuck with their safe quality-driven angle, they could’ve lost more sales or even gone bust. By being bold, analysing the market and what the competition was offering, they came up with a brilliant new brand strategy.

Old Spice shook its fusty reputation and reinvented itself for a younger demographic. They’re now one of the most successful male grooming brands on the market.

Their brave rebrand paid off. And so can yours.