Old Spice Commercials: Two Types of Communication

4 min read

It’s so powerful that it sells itself in other people’s commercial. It’s so powerful that it turns off the Sun, then it gets too cold, so it makes another Sun. It’s newer than new socks and New Jersey. It changes the regular smell of a man to a man who smells like power.

And so on and so forth.

Power in a metal can called Old Spice.

smell of confidence old spiceI’m sure you must have come across Old Spice commercials on the TV, featuring two ultimately manly men – Isaiah Mustafa and Terry Crews.

old spiceThey’ve appeared on the screen for the first time in 2010 and instantly became iconic, winning numerous industry awards. Thanks to a tongue-and-cheek sense of humor and almost overwhelming creativity, they virtually have become a cultural phenomenon.

No wonder they generate a lot of online buzz – they are smart, hilarious and surprising. They are so incredible that after a 10-minute commercial break it’s the Old Spice commercial you remember.

Mustafa and Crews have starred in 3 campaigns: The Man Your Man Could Smell Like, Odor Blocker Body Wash and the most recent Smell-mitment.

If you look closer, the commercials of Mustafa and Crews differ when it comes to the communication as they address two target audience – men and women.

Let’s take a closer look.

The Beginning

The first campaign Smell Like a Man, Man, was launched in 2010 and featured The Man Your Man Could Smell Like commercial.

smell like a man man old spiceIt all began in 2003 when Old Spice came out with a new body wash and met with a cut-throat competition. In order to survive, the brand hired the creative brains of Weiden+Kennedy advertising agency.

Given the brand’s 70 years of heritage, Old Spice was concerned with the ability to win the hearts and wallets of young men. The heritage, initially seen as an obstacle, eventually has been used to the advantage of the band. Because who knows more about masculinity than a 70-year-old men cosmetics brand, right?

Another crucial finding showed that more than 50% of body wash purchases were done by women so Old Spice tried to encourage women to stop buying their favorite body washes for their men. Was there an assumption that women pick body washes according to their preferences? Apparently, because Mustafa says anything is possible when your man smells like Old Spice and not a lady.

The commercial became an instant hit and appealed both to women and men. Old Spice had to keep up with the punch. Seeing the mass appeal of the commercials, Old Spice created more commercials starring Isaiah Mustafa and the body wash.

Soon after, the brand started off with the odor blocker body wash campaign featuring Terry Crews. Similarly to Smell Like a Man, Man, the commercials with Crews were based on the same mixture of masculinity, cleverness, and amusement.

So What’s the Difference

One can at a glance spot that Mustafa and Crews slightly differ from each other. Both being masculine, they are heaven to earth when it comes to physical look, voice, gestures, and language. So are the commercials.

Mustafa is a ladies’ man. Charming, gentle, yet manly and vigorous sweet-talker, swaggering through the commercials. Seems he knows what women want.

On the other hand, we’ve got Crews: a muscular, high-octane guy who apparently can’t contain his power and obliterates anything he stumbles upon. That’s a guy you’d like to work out with if you’re a man.

These two dudes present two different models of communication with Mustafa reaching out to women and Crews to men.

This’s How They Do It

Have you ever thought why these commercial is so appealing both to men and women?

Stereotypes, man. Gender stereotypes.


With all due respect guys, but Mustafa represents the perfect man.

He’s charming, physically attractive, speaks a deep and calm voice, has broad arms and a beard. Whether you like it or not, these attributes embody the idea of a real man. Furthermore, he maintains eye contact with the audience and with a firm voice commands women in the audience. His voice, athletic body, and confidence contribute to his image of an alpha male. All these characteristics build his credibility of a real man.

He seems caring, responsible and reliable, what makes him appealing and attractive in a woman’s eye. Also, he knows what women desire and fulfills their stereotypical and materialistic needs. He’s on a boat with oysters containing two tickets to her favorite show. The tickets turn into a fountain of diamonds. Can’t deny women don’t like surprises and diamonds, right?

All these items contribute to his picture of an alpha male who guarantees stability, wealth and adventure women desire. These characteristics relate to gender stereotypes that speak to a woman’s satisfaction. Old Spice body wash can at least make a man smell like the real man.


Old Spice’s commercials starring Terry Crews speak directly to men through the theme of power. These commercials are jam packed with testosterone and ridiculous events that demonstrate how powerful Old Spice is. Crews seems to be an embodiment of power and masculine virility. He’s strikingly loud, extremely well-build and immediately gives the impression of an ultimately manly man in a way that appeals to men.

In the commercials, he talks with his biceps, breaks into other people’s commercials, sits on a tiger, fights with buildings and more. All these events represent the power Old Spice can allegedly give to a man. Power speaks to the audience through Crews’ screamy voice, muscles, and explosions.

The commercials display the idea of a stereotypical man: rough, strong, screamy and powerful. Society is full of gender stereotypes men constantly look up. With these commercials, Old Spice becomes one of the attributes a real man should possess.


The commercials contain a perfect mixture of humor and gender stereotypes. They successfully convince men and women to look up to the idea of an alpha male, which can be achieved with the help of Old Spice. Buying and Old Spice satisfies both men and women, as the man is getting closer to the masculine standard. Even though a regular man probably cannot afford a fountain of diamonds or a yacht, he can at least smell like the real man.

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