Grand Marketer of the Year 2010: James Moorhead, Old Spice

<< Previous page

“I always wanted to be a marketer from when I was little. I had an uncle who’d been in the business. I heard P&G was the place to go and I applied in 2000 for an internship, and I wrote to some Williams grads who were at P&G,” he says. He managed to score an internship on the Olay brand. Looking back, Moorhead remembers that he was “super-jealous of the Old Spice intern and super-jealous of the Old Spice brand manager.”

Two things signaled events to come. First, Moorhead had applied for his internship online, which was not a universal job application method at the time. And second, Olay was in the middle of a brand reinvention.

Brand reinvention and online techniques were to be used in combination and to great effect when he moved to Old Spice. Moorhead was keen to get the brand into social media, and to make sure that the communication with consumers was more than just one-way. No one else was doing that. The 2010 TV spots were followed in July by a marathon ad-making session in which Wieden and Mustafa made 186 personalized YouTube responses to comments and questions posted by Twitter and Facebook users. In the days after these responses were published, the brand’s YouTube channel received more than 94 million views. Old Spice now has more than 90,000 Twitter followers and over 675,000 Facebook fans.

For the initial TV spots, the team’s key insight was that 60 percent of the time the person buying men’s grooming products is a woman. Thus the advertising had to perform the difficult task of appealing both to men—to create demand—and to women, to execute the purchase. P&G had tried several pitchmen in the campaign in an attempt to find that balance, but it was Mustafa, with his chiseled torso and ridiculously self-assured tone, who somehow appealed successfully to both demographics.

Moorhead also gave the Wieden team creative legroom. The ads were shot in a single cut, without computerized special effects. That’s really Mustafa delivering his lines, rolling a log in a lake, cutting a countertop with a circular saw, throwing a cake over his shoulder and then jumping (with the aid of an invisible harness) onto a motorcycle parked in a Jacuzzi. The spot with these scenes took about 67 takes, and Moorhead signed off on the expense of an extra day of shooting to get it right. “You can probably imagine the type of faith and courage it takes for a large corporation to allow you the freedom to do all this,” says Jason Bagley, one of the Wieden creative directors on the project. “They do get it.”

Crucially, the “old” part of Old Spice has been successfully repurposed into a self-deprecating “experience” theme. P&G even brought back the script logo, and sells Old Spice T-shirts on its Web site. (One says “I’m on a horse.”) “The core splash-on cologne and aftershave in the buoy bottle still exists and is a big part of holiday season gift-giving,” Moorhead says. “It’s still the same, the original.”

Which is why this campaign may not be your father’s Old Spice, but it may end up being your son’s.


Aye, Matey

Old Spice marketing has come a long way since its 1938 debut, when it relied heavily on nautical imagery. Back when consumers weren’t as cynical, the brand could more easily use images of clipper ships and sailors hanging out in tight white pants. Old Spice’s 1953 jingle (a borrowing of the bagpipe melody “Scotland the Brave”) even opened with a “Yo ho!” The brand toyed with landlubbing marketing themes for a few years, but has finally returned to its salty roots with Mustafa—who¹s not only on a yacht, but wearing tight white pants.