Old Spice Campaign Smells Like a Sales Success, Too

Old Spice’s “Smell Like a Man, Man” campaign has been a huge viral success, but has it increased sales? The answer is an emphatic yes, according to The Nielsen Co. and new data from SymphonyIRI Group.

According to Nielsen, sales of Old Spice Body Wash—the line touted in the Wieden + Kennedy-created campaign—rose 11 percent over the past 12 months and since the effort broke in February, sales seem to be gaining momentum.

Over the past three months, sales jumped 55 percent and in the past month, they rose 107 percent, also per Nielsen. Recent sales figures from SymphonyIRI  also show a lift for Old Spice Body Wash products. The disclosure of Nielsen data, which is usually not made public, came after a report in Brandweek that cited SymphonyIRI data for the product featured in the campaign, Red Zone After Hours Body Wash. (At the time of the article, P&G and Wieden declined to give out any information about sales of the product, even in a general way.)

Sales of Red Zone fell 7 percent for the 52 weeks ended June 13, according to SymphonyIRI. (Dollar sales for all Old Spice Body Wash products rose 8.2 percent for that period, also per SymphonyIRI.)

According to Shelley Hughes, a rep for SymphonyIRI, those numbers are wholly based on scanner data from all the major U.S. retailers, except for Walmart and warehouse clubs. SymphonyIRI tracks about 25 Old Spice branded products.

Newer data from SymphonyIRI measuring sales since Feb. 21—roughly the time the campaign launched—show a definitive increase for Red Zone, the product that Isaiah Mustafa clutches in the initial TV spot (though subsequent ads feature a broader array of products).

Sales for Red Zone hit $1.6 million  for the four-week period ended July 11, a 49 percent jump over the four-week period ended Feb. 21, SymphonyIRI’s data shows. The other four Old Spice Body Wash products also show a lift. Overall sales for Old Spice Body Wash rose 105 percent for that period [see chart].

Nielsen’s figures are also based on scanner data from retailers, also not including Walmart. P&G rep Michael Norton said he believed Nielsen’s numbers were conclusive.

“Since the ‘Smell Like A Man, Man’ campaign broke in February, Old Spice has month-over-month strengthened its market position,” said Norton in an e-mail. He  added that Old Spice  is now the No. 1 brand of body wash and anti-perspirant/deodorant in both sales and volume with growth in the high single/double digits.

Nielsen, however, did not provide sales figures for the latter. Old Spice deodorant sales rose 30 percent since February, according to SymphonyIRI.

Gary Stibel, CEO and founder of The New England Consulting Group, said his d ata also shows a lift for Old Spice. “We think that Old Spice is up. We don’t think it’s up in the double digits, but it’s up meaningfully, and we think it’s driven 100 percent by marketing.” Stibel scoffed at speculation that the campaign might not be effective because it attempts to appeal to women rather than men.

“We think it’s targeted to both sexes,” he said. “It’s targeted to people who are attractive or want to be attractive.” In fact, Stibel says that according to his research, many Old Spice buyers are divorced men. Said Stibel: “A lot of people are buying Old Spice now and it isn’t because they’re young.”

On the engagement front, the campaign, which was enhanced by a real-time component earlier this month in which Mustafa personally responded to blogger and Twitter-based comments about the campaign via video, is also a clear success.

The response videos have been viewed more than 40 million times. Total brand views on the Web are estimated to have surpassed 110 million.

Still, Stibel said without a strong correlation to sales—which is obvious in this case—it’s hard to consider a campaign a success. “Good campaigns can take a while to take off,” said Stibel, “but great campaigns have an impact right away.” —With Elaine Wong


Todd Wasserman is a freelance writer who was formerly the business editor of Mashable and the editor-in-chief of Adweek’s Brandweek.