Why The Old Spice Guy Should Have Quit While He Was Ahead

The Old Spice guy is back, but his return has been less than triumphant. Maybe Old Spice should have left well enough alone and retired the Old Spice guy while he was ahead.

Just six months ago, Old Spice was sitting on top of the advertising world. Their Man Your Man Could Smell Like response campaign had just come to a close and was officially the most successful online video campaign of all time, even more popular than Obama was at his peak, with over 40 million views overall. And then, as quickly as the Old Spice guy appeared he vanished from the web. Now the Old Spice guy is back, but his return has been less than triumphant. Maybe Old Spice should have left well enough alone and retired the Old Spice guy while he was ahead.

When the Old Spice guy came back at the end of January with a new video announcing his return I have to admit I was ecstatic. I thought that last year’s Old Spice campaign, which kicked off with a Super Bowl commercial and just kept getting better and better, was one of the best things ever and I couldn’t wait to see what Old Spice was going to do next. Turns out that the only way they probably would have been able to one-up their response campaign would be to have Isaiah Mustafa literally fly around in a helicopter, tossing Old Spice through his fans’ windows with personalized notes attached. Unfortunately, they didn’t go this route.

What did they do instead? They chose one “Super Fan” to seed their next video to. This Super Fan would be the one who got to unleash the new commercial spot to the world. Isaiah Mustafa explains more in the video below:

On February 3, the Old Spice Super Fan was announced. 16-year old Chris Gatewood received a phone call from “the man your man could smell like”, as well as Super Bowl tickets and a link to the new commercial spot (which was unlisted so that Chris was truly the only one who had access to it. Check out the phone call here:

The phone call video went up on February 3 but Chris milked it for all it was worth and took his time waiting to post the video, building a buzz. He shared a link to his own Old Spice parody, asked people to follow him, and tried to get #NewOldSpiceAd into the trending topics before he finally tweeted a link to the new video, or rather a link to the new video embedded on his personal website. If you haven’t seen the new video yet, check it out below.

Compared to the buzz that the last Old Spice campaign got, and the fact that all of the 2010 man your man could smell like videos got over a million views within a matter of days (and sometimes even hours), I’d say that something went horribly wrong this time around. Isaiah Mustafa’s ‘I’m Back’ video only has 681,000 views since it hit the web nearly three weeks ago, the phone call video has gotten 156,000 views in four days, and even the new commercial spot has only gotten 193,000 views since Chris made it public three days ago. Sure, if you add all that up then the Old Spice Guy’s return and subsequent campaign has racked up just over 1 million views. But that’s nothing if you look at their previous track record.

I’d say the real winner in this situation is definitely super fan Chris Gatewood, and I’d like to say kudos and congratulations to Chris on a job well done. I don’t know how much traffic he managed to drive to his blog from posting the video there first but he has racked up over 1,000 followers on Twitter and even gotten his Twitter account verified, and he managed to get over 50,000 views on his Old Spice parody, not to mention a trip to Dallas and two tickets to that thing he loves (aka The Super Bowl).

But aside from the benefits that Chris Gatewood reaped as a result of the campaign, what do you think about the return of the Old Spice guy? Personally, I think that this new, less successful campaign takes the exciting edge of Old Spice and Isaiah Mustafa and makes the response campaign just a little bit less extraordinary. Had they retired the Old Spice guy for good we would be left with a taste for more and remember him fondly. But now that he’s back I’ve got to say that I (and probably others as well) are a little disappointed that we haven’t been blown away like we were last summer.

All I can say is, I hope that if Old Spice moves forward with this campaign we’ll see something we’ve never seen before (like Isaiah Mustafa outside our windows in a helicopter maybe?). Let us know what you think in the comments.