Old Spice

The Evolution of Old Spice: A Timeless Scent for Men

Old Spice, a household name in men's grooming, has an intriguing history that dates back to the 1930s. It's a tale of adaptation, innovation, and marketing brilliance that has transformed the brand from a women's perfume to a leading men's grooming line.


Chapter 1: The Dawn of Old Spice

In 1937, the Shulton Company, led by William Lightfoot Schultz, introduced its first product: 'Early American Old Spice' for women. The fragrance, inspired by Schultz's mother's potpourri, aimed to encapsulate the aura of colonial times.

The Nautical Theme

Schultz was keen on maintaining a colonial theme for his products, so he adopted a nautical motif for Old Spice. As a result, colonial sailing ships became a distinctive trademark on the packaging of Old Spice products. The original ships featured were the Grand Turk and the Friendship, with the Wesley, Salem, Birmingham, and Hamilton also making appearances.

Chapter 2: Transition to Men's Grooming

A year after the launch of the women's fragrance, the Shulton Company introduced Old Spice for Men in 1938. The new line, which included shaving soap and aftershave lotion, quickly outshone the women's range in popularity, marking the beginning of Old Spice as a men's grooming brand.

Chapter 3: Mid-century Expansion

Throughout the mid-20th century, Old Spice extended its product range to include shaving creams, body washes, deodorants, and other grooming products. The unique scent of Old Spice, a blend of citrus, flowers, and vanillin, became a staple in men's grooming routines, not just in America but around the world.

Chapter 4: Acquisition by Procter & Gamble

In June 1990, consumer goods titan Procter & Gamble (P&G) acquired Old Spice. This ushered in a new epoch of growth and innovation, with P&G focusing on broadening Old Spice's global footprint and sprucing up its image to appeal to a younger demographic.

Chapter 5: Rebranding and Viral Marketing

Old Spice underwent a substantial rebranding campaign in the late 2000s, aiming to shed its image as a product for older men and attract a new generation. The result was a series of viral marketing campaigns that leveraged humour and absurdity to create a buzz.

The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

Perhaps the most memorable campaign was "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like," launched in 2010. The ad featured actor Isaiah Mustafa delivering witty and surreal monologues in a single continuous shot. The campaign was a huge success, becoming a cultural phenomenon and significantly boosting Old Spice sales.

Chapter 6: Consistent Innovation and Expansion

In the years following the successful rebranding, Old Spice continued to innovate and expand its product range. The brand now offers a wide variety of scents and grooming products, including body washes, deodorants, antiperspirants, shaving creams, and body sprays.

Chapter 7: Maintaining Market Dominance

Old Spice's journey from a stagnant brand to a men's personal-care powerhouse is a testament to its adaptability and resilience in an ever-evolving market. In just 18 months, Old Spice managed to surpass Gillette's Right Guard to become America's leading deodorant and antiperspirant for men, capturing 20% of the $1 billion market.

Chapter 8: Repositioning a Familiar Brand

One of the biggest challenges Old Spice faced was repositioning a familiar brand. However, through strategic marketing and product development, the brand managed to reinvent itself and appeal to a younger demographic.

Chapter 9: Targeting a New Demographic

Old Spice's strategy was simple: target teens and tweens who had yet to establish brand loyalty. They distributed free samples of their "High Endurance" sub-brand to students in 90% of America's 5th-grade health classes. They also focused on the sports crowd, drawing a connection between their products and athletic prowess.

Chapter 10: The Impact of Advertising

While the "Man Your Man Could Smell Like" campaign is often associated with Old Spice's resurgence, it was their earlier marketing efforts that truly propelled the brand to its current status. Their target demographic shift and grassroots marketing efforts allowed them to reclaim the top spot in the US deodorant market by 2004.

Chapter 11: Looking towards the Future

As of November 2015, Old Spice holds a 28% share of the $1.4 billion US deodorant market. This is due in large part to their innovative marketing campaigns and product development, as well as their ability to adapt to changing consumer preferences.

Chapter 12: A Testimony to Evolution and Innovation

The history of Old Spice is a compelling tale of evolution and innovation. From its humble beginnings as a women's fragrance to its current status as a global brand for men's grooming products, Old Spice has navigated changing market trends and consumer preferences, consistently emerging at the top, smelling like the man your man could smell like.

In conclusion, the story of Old Spice is one of resilience, adaptability and a keen understanding of the market. It's a brand that has stood the test of time, evolving and adapting to meet the changing needs of its consumers. Today, Old Spice is not just a brand, but a symbol of timeless masculinity.

Back to blog

Stories for Startups.

Get Smarter Every Week - We Send You Cool Stories About People Making Money, and Tell You How They Did It.

Stop anytime.