Old Spice's The Man Your Man Could Smell Like Advertising Campaign Essays

Old Spice's The Man Your Man Could Smell Like Advertising Campaign Essays

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Winner of the 2010 Grand Prix for film at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival and a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Commercial for the Portland ad agency Wieden+Kennedy. Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” ads advertising campaign took on a life of its own, spilling into social media and becoming the object of debates. Some media outlets, like CBS News, asked, “Is the Old Spice Guy ‘Post-Racial’ or Just Another ‘Mandingo’?” (Edwards, 2010). These surface readings do not impress when the advertisements are critically interrogated though the lens of critical race and gender theories that draw on Marxist and psychoanalytic themes.
Mustafa is a “dashing, tall, dark and handsome figure with impossible abs, a gleaming smile, and a twinkle in his eyes,” who “possesses an electric charisma and a self-deprecating sense of humor” (Romano, 2010). The ads are full of non-sequiturs, absurd humor, and the usual ribbing about “what a man should be like.” Here is the transcript to the first ad in the series, “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like,” with what is going on in the scene:
Hello, ladies (bathroom with shower running, shirtless, towel wrapped around his waist). Look at your man, now back to me, now back at your man (the frame narrows on him, eventually showing him naked from the waist up). Now back to me. Sadly, he isn’t me. But if he stopped using lady scented body wash and switched to Old Spice (he holds up a soap covered bottle of Old Spice body wash) he could smell like he’s me. Look down, back up. (scene changes to a boat) Where are you? You’re on a boat. (his towel flies off to reveal white boating pants underneath and a blue and white shirt falls from the sky around his neck) With the man your man...

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Old Spice. (2010d, July 7). Boat [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7e_igiPIUI
Old Spice. (2011a, January 20). I’m back [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qt6iEGzLPjg
Old Spice. (2011b, February 1). Scent vacation [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3R2cnxz27LI
Old Spice. (2011c, March 3). Fiji [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdkHlCiWRCA
Old Spice. (2011d, March 3). Komodo [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAB9K6dOD9A
Romano, T. (2010, July 18). The Old Spice man’s internet triumph. The Daily Beast. Retrieved from http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2010/07/18/old-spice-guy-post-racial-commercial-genius.html
Storey, J. (2008). Cultural theory and popular culture: an introduction. Harlow, England: Pearson Longman.

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