Old Spice and the burden of choice
Many have enjoyed Wieden + Kennedy’s manly Isaiah exhorting the simple charms of Old Spice. But brandflakesforbreakfast makes an acute observation – on shelf the simple becomes complex. Not just the scent of Old Spice Classic but (in the U.S.) Old Spice Aqua Reef and Red Zone and High Endurance Pure Sport. Lots to navigate and choose from (and at two feet distance, not easy to pick apart in a wall of red).
It’s a classic design dilemma; strong shelf blocking is impactful, but give the consumer too much choice and they move on to ranges simpler to shop. Plenty of brands share this issue, but it’s notable with Old Spice at the moment, because the advertising’s message is so brilliantly basic.
No-more 80′s grooming brand Insignia (for men) had a great insight – guys don’t want to smell of lots of different things. So Insignia had one design and one scent which came in soap, deodorant, aftershave, shampoo, etc. etc. Sadly, as these all smelled of Insignia the brand died. But the principle was sound.
Lynx / Axe is a current brand which manages to get the blocking / varianting balance right. And it allows scope for infinite innovation, which helps keep them relevant.
And here’s Old Spices other dilemma. How to make “classic” timeless. While the ads brilliantly lampoon the retro 70′s alpha male archetype the packs just look dated. One could argue that this is the appeal, but other brands from Fiat 500, to Gucci by Gucci, to Coke Classic have played a more nuanced design strategy, balancing retro with more contemporary aesthetics. Simply evoking nostalgia risks a short-lived novelty appeal spike, whereas the brand could be given longer lasting appeal if it visually moved with the times a little more.
I doubt many were even thinking about Old Spice at all a few weeks ago, so hats off to the agency for driving re-appraisal. But in what has been a very “360” campaign, has the packaging been left behind?
Alternatively, click here to watch the ad.