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Old Spice, New Swagger

August 2019

This is a self-funded case study using our Advertising Testing solution.

Men are spending more time working late, more time binging on Netflix and less time hanging out with their mates. That’s the sad state of affairs revealed in research undertaken by Old Spice, which led to the development of the brand’s latest campaign – ‘Never let a friend lose his swagger’.

The trio of shorts see Old Spice Swagger leverage the ridiculous and humorous tone of voice the brand is famous for, to align with an issue sympathetic to many men – remaining socially active when other priorities in life take over.

But continuing to hit the very high creative benchmark set by its long-time agency, Wieden+Kennedy, is a very difficult task, which is why we wanted to know – does Old Spice’s new campaign bring the Swagger?

To understand how consumers responded to the 84 second online-only video, we used our Advertising Testing solution to access in-depth results from a representative audience of US males in just a few hours.

We use 3 ‘Cs’ to predict effectiveness:

  1. Captivate: Does it attract and retain viewers’ attention, and engage them in an emotional way?
  2. Connect: Is it instantly recognisable for the brand?
  3. Compel: Does it leave people with a lasting impression about the brand, which primes them to choose it?


The video sparked intrigue and excitement right from the get-go, with cinematic-like qualities drawing viewers into the story. However, pacing of the 84 second cut immediately slowed, allowing viewers to get up close and personal with the characters during the “pep talk”.

This was a double-edged sword; at best it allowed the video to commit to an explosive action sequence straight out of your stereotypical war movie, filled with comradery and humour. The “leave no man behind” premise worked well, touching on a struggle to stay social that many men could empathise with.

However, at worst seeing the brand early on diffused much of the tension. Was Old Spice unsure you’d pick up the narrative otherwise?

The zany, off-the-wall humour resonated with viewers, but the lengthy setup detracted from on-going viewer involvement and the video’s overall distinctiveness.


The irreverent humour meant ‘Next Episode’ was seen to be an appropriate fit with the brand. Combined with other subtle cues such as the brand’s distinctive “whistle” sign-off, the video created a meaningful connection to Old Spice.


Old Spice’s research revealed men are increasingly ditching their mates and opting for a night-in on the couch instead. This angle resonated with viewers, who could relate to – and see the funny side of – the scenario depicted in ‘Next Episode’.

While themes such as ‘understand men’s needs’, sociability, friendship and confidence were all conveyed to varying degrees, they lacked the coherency and synergy present in a single-minded proposition.

This meant viewers didn’t clearly connect the role of the brand to the story which unfolded, even though the humour and style made the video uniquely for Old Spice.

The amusing, relatable and action-packed storyline encouraged social sharing, while it also perpetuated Old Spice’s unique positioning in the category. However, it did little else to change or reinforce people’s attitudes and feelings toward the brand, which subsequently inhibited the messaging from driving short- or long-term behaviour change.


The most effective advertising leaves people with a lasting impression about the brand, which either hits an emotional nerve, or utilises a relevant product insight. The 84 second online-only iteration of ‘Next Episode’ had some of the makings of a hit, but was held back by a cluttered message and stop-start pacing.

As a result, the well-crafted humour and action meant that effectiveness was good – but not great – just missing out at sitting in the top 30th percentile of our video content database.

Old Spice Video Content - Ad Testing

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