Old Spice: Fabio vs. Mustafa – buzz vs. sales?

When I first saw the new set of Old Spice ads featuring Fabio, I was disappointed. As with movies, one always compares sequles to the original. In this case, Isaiah Mustafa was a hands-down winner, in my view. The Fabio ads were funny alright but lacked the certain something in execution – the Isaiah ones were delivered with more style, perhaps. Anyway, what followed is now fast becoming a marketing legend in the making. I am not sure if the lukewarm-to-negative response to the Fabio ads lead to the idea of getting the old guy back or it was a pre-planned move to create buzz – but the idea of an ‘internet duel‘ between Fabio and Mustafa is brilliant.  This for me symbolizes the kind of thinking and communication solutions called for in new media. Great stuff from W+K both in terms of strategy and execution. The duel is being closely watched – there’s even a Blow by Blow Bar Graph.

Naysayers are however questioning the business sense of the campaign saying that such campaigns simply create buzz but do not result in sales. Even with last year’s campaign some gloated over a decline in sales but the fact seems to say otherwise. The Old Spice campaign went on to win an Effie too – where entries must be backed with data of positive sales impact. I think the larger point about this campaign is that it has transformed the once fuddy-duddy brand into a hip & happening one. And that’s a positive change no amount of immediate, short terms sales data will capture. It will have a lasting positive impact on the brand in the years to come.

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