Old Spice, the personal-care brand owned by Procter & Gamble, has developed its approach to engaging Black men in the US, and yielded powerful results through a nuanced shift in its strategy.

Marc Pritchard, P&G’s chief brand officer, discussed this subject at the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) 2019 Multicultural Marketing and Diversity Conference.

And he referenced “The Man your Man Could Smell Like”, an irreverent, iconic Old Spice spot from the start of the decade featuring actor Isaiah Mustafa – which then led to a range of other tongue-in-cheek ads from the brand.

“We thought the advertising was appealing to Black consumers, with what we thought was hilarious, over-the-top humor from [actors] Isaiah Mustafa and Terry Crews,” said Pritchard. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: How Procter & Gamble identified (and filled) the “gaps” in its multicultural advertising.)

P&G’s research, however, has uncovered a drawback of this award-winning work. “It was funny to some people, but not to Black men, who found much of the work to be sophomoric ‘fraternity’ humor,” Pritchard said.

Instead, he continued, “Black men and women wanted to see Black men accurately represented as sophisticated and smooth, not brash and loud.”

The brand reacted accordingly, crafting a new generation of Old Spice messages that were grounded in the insight that Black male consumers wanted product benefits – moisturisation, for instance, as shown in its “Men Have Skin Too” campaign.

It also elevated the tone of the humour instead of walking away from its initial appeal – and drew on an insight that “in general, guys aren’t great at sharing their stuff, especially when it comes to personal-care products.”

To overcome that barrier, Pritchard added, “The brand team wanted to create relatable drama and looked to shows like ‘Insecure’ and ‘Black-ish’ for inspiration. They hired Millicent Shelton, our first Black female director on Old Spice.”

And the new campaign “achieved 250 million views with 250,000 ‘likes’ and comments such as ‘Old Spice gets me,’” the P&G brand chief reported.

“We’re now growing users among Black men ahead of the national average and these products are growing between 30% to 50%.

“And, as we’ve found on many brands, effective communication among African Americans actually increases effectiveness among all consumers” – as evidenced by the entire brand’s 11% growth over the last six months.

Sourced from WARC