Old Spice Brand VP Discusses ‘Men Have Skin Too’ Series, Experiences and Cause Marketing

Posted on by Kaylee Hultgren

Old Spice released the latest installment of its playful “Men Have Skin Too” commercials this week. And this time, it’s providing an outlet for women to “come clean” about stealing their significant others’ products. For a limited time, consumers who purchase a product from its Fresher Collection will get another item (presumably the one they stole) for free and some Old Spice swag, to boot. The brand also declared its Oct. 19 launch as “Come Clean Day.”

New behaviors during the pandemic—along with consumer insights—helped shape the strategy behind the campaign. “There’s this whole notion around sharing while cohabitating. About 50 percent of women who we spoke with talked about using their significant others’ grooming products. And we know today that a lot of women love Old Spice,” says Matt Krehbiel, Old Spice Vice President at Procter & Gamble. We spoke with Krehbiel about the campaign’s latest creative how the brand is approaching experiences and its most recent cause marketing initiatives.

Chief Marketer: What originally inspired the “Men Have Skin Too” campaign?

Matt Krehbiel: One of the things that we recognized from a product standpoint is that our target loves our scent. But he also wants clean, healthy, moisturized skin. We have our Fresher Collection, which brings real benefits, and it’s an ingredient-based line. We’ve got products like moisturizer with Shea butter and a new Fiji hand and body lotion. We knew that we were bringing him something so that he could take his self-care up to the next level. But we also got some insights as we were talking to our consumers. One of the things that came up thematically was that he often just gets that little corner within the shower. And his significant other may have tons more stuff in the bathroom.

There’s also this whole notion around sharing while cohabitating. About 50 percent of women whom we spoke with talked about using their significant others’ grooming products. And we know today that a lot of women love Old Spice. So the #MenHaveSkinToo campaign was born. It features Deon Cole and Gabrielle Dennis as our two lead characters. They are married and throughout the series she keeps taking his Old Spice products, whether it’s our long-lasting antiperspirant or moisturizing body wash. This new aspect of the series brings new relationships, such as Deon’s mother-in-law with Patti LaBelle or the therapist with Nia long. We have some other fun surprises coming up in January as well.

CM: Are you anticipating an increase in product sales with women as a result of this campaign?

MK: We’re having fun with the dynamic between men and women. We know that a lot of women today buy and use and love Old Spice. Of course, a lot of men do, too. The campaign really speaks to anyone who Old Spice appeals to, but it has a little fun by flipping it on its head. Now she is taking his product. He used to look over at the women’s side of the beauty island and see all these benefits that he may have felt like he was missing out on, but in this case, Old Spice brings him those benefits. So, the tables have turned and she’s looking over at his stuff more.

CM: Overall, has the program increased sales since you started airing the spots?

MK: We launched this program in 2019 and our sales have steadily increased over the last two years on both our antiperspirant deodorant business as well as our body wash business. Our hand and body lotion is a new business that we brought in. We read through the comments during the initial campaign and we saw some people saying, “you guys should do a lotion.” And “I love that you’re doing things in the moisturization space.” So even those new products were inspired by comments that we got from our consumers.

CM: Talk about the new holiday you’ve created, “Come Clean Day.” How did that come about and how you are you supporting it from a marketing perspective?

MK: Our launch day is also going to be our national Come Clean Day. On oldspice.com, you can playfully fess up to having used your significant other’s products. And you can buy a Fresher Collection item for yourself. We have things available for the significant other, like a hat or a t-shirt or other fun products. We find that people love to associate with the brand overall, as an entertainment brand with humor. People actually love Old Spice t-shirts and swag, so it’s a great way to do that. We’ve had merch available over the past couple of years. The fun and new component is that she can order one for herself and get something for him as well.

CM: Let’s shift gears to experiential. How are you approaching experiences this year?

MK: Throughout the pandemic, we’ve tried to keep the experiential nature of the brand going. A great example is our work at the NFL Draft. Some of our previous NFL things may have been in-person, but even when the Draft was virtual we did an Old Spice robes stunt. As we look to the year ahead, we’ll be prepared for solutions, depending on the in-person nature of activities. We are planning to be around Super Bowl. We work with some of our strongest NFL partners, people like Derrick Henry, to bring our messaging to life. But we also know that the reach of that needs to go well beyond the walls of the people who are in the experience themselves. And some of the ways that we do that is by enabling people to create content, or to take part in our content, in a way that becomes shareable.

CM: How do you use your Old Spice Barbershop in Columbus, OH, to create content through experiences? Has the pandemic shifted that strategy at all?

MK: It’s a fully functioning barbershop right on the Ohio State campus where people come in to get cuts. With students back in school, we’re seeing traffic flow in well to the barbershops. Its primary objective is to introduce guys to the brand and to our grooming solutions in an authentic way. But to your point, it is also a fully functioning content studio that allows us to go well beyond the walls of the barbershop and to share tips on how to style your hair, how to take care of your scalp, as well as having some fun Easter eggs throughout, including the fact that the register is an actual old wooden boat sawed in half.

And we’ve got other fun things throughout that surprise and delight those who come in. We’ve got barbers there every day. And then sometimes we bring in barbers to our Barber Residency Program, where celebrity barbers help both create some of the tutorials and the content that we push out. It launched about a year ago.

CM: How did the idea come about?

MK: We had become a serious player in hair as the number one men’s hair brand. And we knew that part of what we want to stand for is helping guys look and feel their best and feel confident for success. We are getting that through the one-on-one interactions, but also by ensuring that he has the content. So, if he searches for a particular hairstyle that he wants or a particular solution that he needs, we’re there with the content that can help address those needs.

CM: The brand has been prioritizing cause marketing programs recently. Talk about some of those initiatives.

MK: We’ve launched “Old Spice Ambition,” where over the next 10 years we plan to help improve the life of young people by improving high school graduation rates. We want to empower students to have the confidence they need to know that they can succeed. And we’re doing that by connecting with them in a number of ways. We partnered with the filmmakers of “Black Boys,” which is a documentary in partnership with “Frontlines of Justice.” That helped us engage in discussions with kids through virtual Zoom calls. We had [NFL players] like Malcolm Jenkins and Travis Kelce engage with students and have conversations about confidence and the importance of mentorship. We’ve been really inspired by this mentorship space. Part of what we aim to do is increase the number of mentors that are available for young kids, so that they’re set up to graduate from high school and go on and achieve their dreams.

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