The brand found a cache of old unused Old Spice aftershave bottles, some in the brand’s classic bone white, others painted red, and then hand-corked them all to create a giant Ohio State “O.”
The only place the brand looked to save money was a wall decked with scenes taken from vintage Ohio State yearbooks, which Johnny Mishu, senior brand manager for Old Spice hair, says are public domain.
Previously, the barbershop site was an Abercrombie & Fitch test store. Since A&F had the store, like its others, set up to pump manly scents through the HVAC, Old Spice is likely to try that eventually, Mishu says.
Besides its regular barbers, trained in part by P&G’s The Art of Shaving and offering shaves using its Bevel products or others of the barbers’ choice, Old Spice also will bring in celebrity barbers with their own social followings. The studio side will create video for brand social posts on its own channels or with online retailers such as Walmart and Target.
This is not a pop-up shop. It’s a permanent location with no set end date. “Eventually it could become the flagship of many others,” Talbott says. “But our main focus from day one is to create content more efficiently and effectively, be innovative and think about brand building in a new way.”
That means giving Wieden control of the back of the house, beyond the barber chairs, which includes an entertainment room Talbott hopes eventually will become an off-campus place guys hang out, plus the mural and studio. The “History of Bad Hair” mural will eventually give way to other ideas, as will the rotating heads, once they’ve been fully mined for social posts.
“Whatever crazy vision Wieden comes up with will be our content,” Talbott says.
Old Spice is willing to try something completely different to market hair products, because seven years of other marketing hasn’t gotten the point across.
“You’d be amazed how many guys buy Old Spice deodorant and body wash who don’t even know we have hair products,” Talbott says. “We’ve sat in research before where we screened young guys, asked what kind of shampoo do you use, and they’ll list Old Spice. Then they come in for research and ask them what variant they use, and they say they didn’t even know Old Spice had hair. Less than 5% of guys who use the megabrand even know that hair exists. So, we told Krehbiel and others that we’re going to go off and drive awareness of hair in a different way, be obsessed with hair.”
Breaking through clutter
The WWE partnership aims to break through clutter in a different way, Krehbiel says. What makes the fit perfect for the uncertain world of “Smell Ready for Anything,” he says, is that Joseph Average, the embodiment of Old Spice’s new Night Panther scent, becomes an accidental winner of the WWE’s 24/7 Belt, which can be won anytime, anywhere by anybody, he says. “So, if you hold the belt, you need to be ready to defend it at any moment. It could be a parking lot, golf course. I think it’s even been wrestled over on planes.”
In his initial foray, Mr. Average/Night Panther, wins and then loses the belt in front of a giant display of Old Spice products he’s giving away. He temporarily falls on top of current 24/7 holder R-Truth to take the belt, then lose it again, and reveal that he is in fact the mythical Night Panther, who was destined to take the belt all along.
“This is the first time we ever have created this whole back story and character [for a brand] that is going to be incorporated into our story line over six weeks,” says Stephanie McMahon, chief brand officer of WWE. Previously, though, Wieden worked with WWE to set up a match between Colonel Sanders and The Miz, who at the time was pitching mythical competitor Mr. Puffer’s Chicken. The Colonel won, of course, and the crowd started chanting “Colonel Sanders.”
“Of course, we can’t guarantee that” for Old Spice, McMahon says. But she adds: “Now we have a whole new character, who can pop up anywhere, which is exciting.”
The idea, too, is to build confidence, through the transformation of Joe Average. And that’s the plan with the Jesse Williams partnership, too. He gives himself an Old Spice-inspired mirror pep talk promising 2021 will be a year of transformation, “pants-formation,” and, he hopes, Broadway appearances for him.
“It’s a real manifestation of confidence to start the day,” Krehbiel says, “even if the day is not exactly what it looked like a year ago.”