Ha! Cute. Not as cute as Isaiah Mustafa, perhaps, but still.
What caught me about this sly little marketing tag line was that the brand was pushing the cred it already had in spades but that the general public seemed to have simply forgotten about. Rather than trying to reinvent itself as something shiny, new and hip to get attention again (it was fighting the market encroachment of Axe products in particular), it issued people a reminder about what they already knew it was. The marketing team explains their strategy in this article from the NYTimes dated January 8, 2007 (still six months before Mad Men hit the airwaves):
“Our timing was good because this is a moment when everyone appreciates authenticity, when retro is not necessarily a bad word,” Mr. Fitzloff said. “So we can say, ‘You can either be authentic or trendy.’ ”
To underscore authenticity for Old Spice, the campaign gives a prominent role to the brand’s original trappings and trade dress, including the cursive script logo, the clipper ship from the fragrance bottles and the vintage whistled commercial jingle. But they are treated playfully rather than reverentially, in a manner Ms. Taylor described as an “inside-the-joke feeling.”
The article takes a parting shot underlining the mood: “Too bad that it is probably too late for General Motors to bring back Oldsmobile.”
Hmmm, what other products around here are carrying around a decades and decades-old reputation for class and quality but struggle to communicate that message effectively?
Orchestras and opera companies and string quartets can try to invent new branding personalities, but at root they will still be orchestras and opera companies and string quartets. Almost every American knew a grandpa who smelled like Old Spice and new buyers now look to make that experience their own. Is there anything to be gained by polishing the “original trappings” of what attracted people to these art forms in years past? For ensembles presenting art originally created for people living in 1811, not 2011, can we offer a similar experience to concertgoers today? Vintage. Antique. Fascinating things are teased out of the past and made interesting again all the time. If that kind of frame can also be placed around the repertoire and communicated to the community with 2011 sophistication, there might be something compelling there. After arguing about audience alienation via clapping rules and program notes, the discussion almost always comes around again to the concept that the music itself is too great to be ignored and forgotten. If that’s true, then maybe this Old Spice campaign has a spark in it worth applying.
Otherwise, the “just add vampires” line of audience building seems to have some cultural traction. Just sayin’.