Old Spice has started a multimedia war. Although that may sound a touch dramatic, we’re not sure what else you’d call a series of pointed attacks, cleverly cloaked in a campaign called “Sweat Defense.” And the target, NFL linebacker Montez Sweat, appears to have done little more than have a mildly unfortunate last name.
The Washington Redskins rookie has tried everything, from reasoning with the brand (“It’s just my last name”) to employing some pretty solid defensive arguments from colleagues, like Denver Broncos star Von Miller (“Guys, it’s just his last name”).
But the 82-year-old grooming industry tentpole, relentless in their quest for drama, has blown through every single one of the poor guy’s defenses. Luckily for him, Montez shares a last name with one of the most commanding, iconic voices in R&B.
Old Spice has partnered with Keith Sweat with help from Wieden + Kennedy Portland, Citizen Relations and Anaheim Studios, for what really ought to be the be-all and end-all of this Spice/Sweat feud. Revisiting one of his biggest tunes, Keith has called for an end to the madness with a reworked version of his 1996 hit, “Nobody.”
In a two-minute music video—which Sweat released via his social media channels—the R&B legend is seen recording an impassioned plea in a studio. As catchy as it ever was, Keith’s call for “O-o-o-o-old Spice” to leave Montez, Keith and the rest of their surnamesakes alone is difficult to top.
Some might call it a “diss track,” but calling it such would imply that the unrelated Sweats are waiting on a response. This is more like a melodic ceasefire. Besides, can Old Spice claim to have a stronger defense than Keith Sweat’s charm? That’s doubtful.
Among strategically placed billboards, full-page ads in the Washington Post and a cleverly linked string of shorts, “Sweat Defense” is an intelligent way to connect two entities—sports and antiperspirant—in a way that doesn’t feel trite. Bringing old-school staples like Keith Sweat into the current pop culture landscape for a younger generation is also a nice touch. Now, if they decide to pick a fight with Byron Maxwell or D’Angelo Ross, we have a few ideas.