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News In Brief

Old Spice Red Zone sales drop 7%, despite hot ads

Melissa Kaplan Jul 21, 2010
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It may be a highly viral ad campaign, but if you’re looking at the bottom line, the Old Spice ads aren’t necessarily successful. Advertising news service WARC reports sales of Old Spice’s Red Zone After Hours body wash have fallen 7 percent. Reasons for the drop in sales remain a mystery, though lifestyle site Jezebel.com points to mixed messages in the campaign. There are only so many ways you can interpret an an ad selling body wash to men that begins with the line, “Hello, ladies.”

Now the company faces a paradox. Losing the ad campaign might give them a shot at better sales, but if they ditch the ads, which feature now-superstar Isaiah Mustafa, it would be a PR nightmare. Which begs the question: With heightened visibility and industry-wide respect for a revived creative approach to an ancient product, should Old Spice look at the big picture and wait for the campaign to pay off in other ways?

Marketing blogger Stephen Denny has an interesting take on whether image turnaround or sales are more important for a company to consider when figuring out their PR. Denny compares Apple’s 1997 “Think Different” campaign with the more recent string of ads from Go Daddy. Apple’s campaign gave the company a memorable image makeover, while Go Daddy’s risque ads, which were banned from the Superbowl this year, have been described by some industry watchers as “the lowest of the low.” Denny poses this question: Which campaign creative would you rather walk into the boardroom with?

“If you’re like most, you’d breathlessly say Apple. Hearing from [marketing executive] Sergio Zyman that this storied campaign was followed by three straight quarters of declining market share dampened many people’s ardor for this….And when I spoke to [Go Daddy] CEO and Founder Bob Parsons, he told me that every year, they hit new sales records.”

But who would Old Spice get to replace Mustafa if they decide to change up their strategy in favor of earnings? The Man on the Horse just just rode into a contract with NBC; that’s a tough act to follow.

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