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An ode to manly marketing


By Henry Alderfer



It’s been more than five years since the sound and the fury of the “Numa Numa” guy was unleashed upon the world.

Seven hundred million views and one T.I. rap adaptation later, Gary Brolsma, the man behind the infamous viral video, is regarded as one of the greatest Internet icons of all time.

His absurdly passionate rendition of an obscure Romanian pop song will be remembered for years.

Against all odds, one former NFL player and a major company seem to be close to topping even the “Numa Numa” guy.

Thanks to an alliance between television advertisement agency Wieden+Kennedy, consumer goods manufacturer Procter & Gamble Co. and the outlandishly handsome Isaiah Mustafa, a new marketing campaign titled “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” has become an internet sensation — and a marketing godsend — for Old Spice.

The original commercials, first aired this February, depicted Mustafa performing incredible acts of manliness such as procuring an oyster containing “two tickets to that thing you love” — which are subsequently converted into diamonds — while speaking to a presumably female audience.

They also featured Mustafa riding a horse backward and performing a perfect swan dive off a waterfall into a Jacuzzi. Needless to say, the first commercial was an instant classic.

The advertisement rightfully won the Grand Prix for film at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival and was recently nominated for a Primetime Emmy award for Outstanding Commercial.

While the television spot won over the hearts of audiences — and particularly women — everywhere, the real genius appears in the wildly popular series of YouTube videos that have built on the commercial’s success.

After the commercial’s initial success, Wieden+Kennedy had Mustafa respond to selected Twitter inquiries through hilarious 30-second YouTube clips.

By targeting celebrities, bloggers and a few random people, Old Spice has created a brilliant marketing monster. As evidence, four of the 20 most popular YouTube videos from the past week are from this campaign.

Perhaps the greatest victory for Wieden+Kennedy has been its success in marketing toward previously unreachable market segments. 4chan.org, the home of what are perhaps the most anarchistic, sadistic and bizarre communities on the Internet, has unexpectedly embraced its mention in the advertising campaign.

Iain Tait, Wieden’s global interactive creative director, backed up this claim, stating, “To have managed to (incorporate 4chan) without them jumping on top of it and hating it — we’ve had more likes for the video that has gone out on 4chan than anything else.”

While I don’t have access to the sales reports at P&G, I am sure the campaign has been a huge success in terms of brand recognition and loyalty for Old Spice.

Mustafa has surreptitiously surpassed the timeless Budweiser frogs as my favorite ad character of all time. Without question, this is a monumental achievement.

Tait summed up the success of the campaign quite eloquently.

“We had this character who is not only loved by ladies, but equally loved by guys — a woman’s man that was okay for men to love,” he said. “And we realized there were no edges to where he could exist.”

To that, I say: “Well played, sir. Well played.”


E-mail: halderfe@indiana.edu

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