Old Spice takes serious turn highlighting impact of COVID-19 on black communities

Corporate cast that includes Toyota, Unilever, Facebook and Salesforce joins BET to raise $16 million for African American communities

Published On
Apr 27, 2020

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Old Spice is rarely serious, but it got that way as it joined a host of other brands and BET network in a campaign to provide financial, educational and community support to fight COVID-19 in black communities.

One thing all the marketing around coronavirus and relief efforts hasn't focused on much so far is the impact on African Americans. But as comedian Deon Cole notes in the Old Spice spot from Wieden+Kennedy: “Predominantly black counties have infection rates three times higher than white ones.” He also notes the Procter & Gamble Co. brand’s efforts to raise funds for Cole’s hometown of Chicago and fellow Old Spice pitchman Terry Crews’ hometown of Flint, Mich.

“This work supports Old Spice’s ongoing efforts to help guys be their #BestSmellf, no matter what the world throws their way,” says Old Spice Associate Brand Director Matt Krehbiel. “While Old Spice enjoys keeping it lighthearted, we also understand that during these uncertain times they are experiencing a range of emotions. It’s a devastating reality that this virus is impacting African Americans at a concerning rate.”

P&G aired the spot in the show and continues to support it in social media, joining a large corporate cast that raised over $16 million in commitments, during a “Saving Our Selves: A BET COVID-19 Relief Effort” on April 22 to support more than 50 organizations nationwide providing resources to African Americans whose health or finances have been affected by the coronavirus crisis.

Other brand participating include Facebook, Unilever, Toyota, Salesforce, McDonald’s, BNY Mellon, Amex, AARP, Clorox Co.’s Pine-Sol, Morgan Stanley, TJX, WW, NBA, RLJ Companies, Restaurant Brands International’s Popeyes and Chicago Trading Company. Philanthropic support also came from Blue Meridian Partners, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, The Ford Foundation and Advancing Black Pathways, all working through United Way Worldwide.

Toyota also created a community service announcement in English and Spanish around its effort, which will continue to run on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and elsewhere through May 6, featuring Anthony Anderson, Cedric The Entertainer and Lupita Infante among others, directing peole to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for information.

As for Old Spice, it didn't stay serious long, evidenced by putting Las Vegas Raiders first-round draftee Henry Ruggs III in a branded bathrobe during the NFL Draft on Thursday night, highlighting the brand’s $320,000 donation to United Way as part the livestreamed NFL Draft-A-Thon, in which brand spokesman Isaiah Mustafa also participated.