05 November, 2008

A Deodorant Advertising Duel

During a trip down the deodorant aisle at my local Safeway, I stumbled across three guys, all about 20-years-old, trying to decide which deodorant one of them should choose. One of them pulled a blue Speed Stick away from his nose and waved it in front of another guy’s face, “What about this one?”

Before he could respond. the same hygienically perplexed gentleman turned to me, “Hey, do you think this smells good?”

I said, “It’s okay. I got that other one just the other day. But the thing is, that’s deodorant, not antiperspirant.”

(How did I know that? 1) The Speed Stick labels are easy to make out from afar. If it’s fancy, it’s probably deodorant/antiperspirant. If the packaging looks dull and uninspired, it’s probably just deodorant. 2) I use deodorant/antiperspirant if I’m wearing a dark t-shirt and just deodorant if I’m wearing a white t-shirt, because my college roommate freshman year told me antiperspirant is what causes “pit-stains”—when the armpits of your shirt gets all gross and brownish yellow. I never bothered to corroborate that theory, but this way I get to change up my deodorant once in a while, and I’m supporting the far less profitable non-antiperspirant deodorant industry.)

I continued, “That’ll hide the smell, but you’ll still sweat.”

“I didn’t even think about that,” one replied.

Another chimed in, “How did we find like the deodorant expert?”

I continued down the aisle. As I walked away, I heard one say, “Get the Mitchum. That’s the one with guy sliding around the baseball field.”

Well, they obviously recognized the Mitchum brand name from their advertising—most notably their “We Know What Men Want” spots (you can find them at www.mitchumman.com, where you can also record a song with their armpit orchestra, although you probably won’t want to). Those who frequently tune to networks like ESPN and Comedy Central will know the guys were confusing Mitchum’s ads with Old Spice’s “Foam” spot below.

While Mitchum’s spots are basically playing up everything that is considered “manly”—monster trucks, bull riding, a bikini car wash—Old Spice took the concept of “manly” and poked fun at how ridiculously far people will go to be a “man”.

The Mitchum spots, obviously done on smaller budgets, are what they are. On the other hand, the Old Spice campaign cost millions. This allowed Wieden + Kennedy to incorporate famous actors like Bruce Campell and Neil Patrick Harris, along with a variety of scenarios. And they delivered intelligent-yet-silly, instantly memorable spots, that, in my opinion, nailed the 25-40 male demo.

However, despite all the creativity and time that went into the Old Spice campaign, the product was lost on these particular discerning consumers. So the ad was a success in that it was easily remembered, but the product was forgotten. As far as Mitchum goes, the consumer remembered the brand name, but couldn’t recall the advertising.

So who’s the winning advertiser in this deal? Mitchum for name recognition? Or Old Spice for creating the spot these guys thought about while standing in the deodorant aisle? While, pondering this dilemma, I’ll leave you with this.

I freaking love Bruce Campbell.

Captain Awesome, Copywriter

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