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This ad features former NFL player Isaiah Mustafa, otherwise known as the “Old Spice Guy” because of his continuing appearance in the most recent Old Spice print and video ads. In this ad Isaiah is seemingly nude in a bathtub and riding a horse made from soap suds. The bubbles are also creating a makeshift cowboy hat cowboy boots, lasso and badge for him. A woman in a towel is gazing up at him as if in awe, with the words beside her saying “make sure your man smells like a man”. The problem I see with this ad and many of the ads in the “Smell like a Man” campaign are their appeals to traditional manly or so-called unmanly gender roles. “When Old Spice, the 72-year-old Procter & Gamble brand, was planning a new advertising campaign for shower gel earlier this year, it faced a challenge: its research suggested women purchase as much as 70 percent of the shower gel for men in their households, but using body wash struck some men as unmanly” (Newman 2010).
What does smelling like man imply? Also, does smelling like a man act in opposition to smelling like a female? Is it wrong to smell like a woman because this somehow implies weakness? This ad is obviously trying to invoke humour by the sheer ridiculousness and exaggeration of the bubbles and I believe this is done in under to provide a different narrative and appeal to consumers than the typically over-sexualized men and women seen in many body wash and perfume ads. Although Isaiah and the woman are both seemingly nude, it’s regarded in a more playful and lighthearted manner, however, this is obviously still very problematic. The line “make sure your man smells like a man” also seems to appeal to an idea that the women have a part to play in order to make sure their man smells manly, which is marketing to women who would be shopping for their significant others, in a sense implying a gendered role of women as nurturing and caregivers. Although Old Spice is attempting to communicate to men that shower gel is not unmanly, this just brings up a host of issues as to what entails masculinity in the first place.
in my jammed ad I kept the original image of Isaiah on the soap suds horse and the woman looking on but changed the wording to say “make sure your man doesn’t smell like a woman”. I believe this wording better represents the underlying message the ad is representing, because the ad is saying normal body wash is for women and thus you will smell like a woman if you use it. Therefore, if you buy Old Spice you will not smell like a woman. Furthermore, I would imply that the fact Isaiah is riding a horse is trying to state that there are manly ways of acting, and if you act a certain way you are destined to attract women. In another similar ad Isaiah is perched on a motorcycle holding a bottle of Old Spice. The body wash’s smell somehow makes them a man who will be irresistible to women. With my jammed ad I am trying to get people to question why we attach gender to objects and to question what masculinity truly is. By subverting the words to “doesn’t smell like a woman” I am trying to bring this relationship of being a man as being the opposite of being a woman to the forefront and not hidden within the ad’s attempt at humorous depiction of gender roles.
Although Old Spice is not like Axe in the way of being “known for over-the-top commercials in which men who use the products become suddenly irresistible to scantily clad women” (Newman 2010), the company is still touching upon gender norms in a humourous way, especially our understanding of traditional manly activities
Original Ad: http://creativity-online.com/work/old-spice-cowboy/20568
Newman, Andrew Adam. 2010. “Old Spice Argues that Real Men Smell Good”. New York Times.