The classic buoy-shaped original bottle: Old Spice
BRAND HISTORY, EVOLUTION, EXPANSION: THE LEGACY FROM SHULTON TO P&G.
THIS blog is about scent. And brand. And story.
Speaking with a friend of mine, years back, Global Brand Creative Director for P&G, Art Herstol, I related my personal history with Old Spice – 45 years ago.
When the brand was acquired, it was his responsibility to coordinate the evolution of the brand — gathering assets, evaluating propositions, and rethinking and restaging the global brand program.
Over time, this has been spectacularly successful. And to anyone’s review, studying the trades, the key positioning for Old Spice has been about the hypergrowth of viral video content wrapped around Isaiah Mustafa. But there’s more to the brand than the last several years. The interesting implication of the effort lies in the focused attention of working on long-running brands — their history, transitioning, evolution and new relevance. That’s paid off, big. That analyses requires a far amount of discarding, trimming and tuning — especially in the new age of high technology fragrances. P&G, however, is a master of innovations in the management of scent and brand, being the largest fragrance group in the world, producing more than any other organization globally. We like P&G.
There’s a personal side, that scent, that percolated memories from my childhood. Growing up, this was one of the early fragrances that I’d been exposed to – then, it was an “after-shave” — a phrase that’s rarely used, even today. That idea of slapping on some alcoholic spritzer after shaving down is a post-Mad Men positioning. There’s a memory of the specific masculine quality of the scent is the most compelling attribute, (and it might actually come from the 60s, to recollection) as well as the fact that, to my memories, this was among the scents of my father. Either that, or it’s something that I found on my own — and I can’t recall what the specific sequences might’ve been — it was either that or Tabac.
Those male notes are quite specific, to the nature of the quality of the brand scent. According to BaseNotes, the scent sequencing is as follows:
The notes that emerge for me, link to the Clary Sage, the citrus/piney Aldehydes, the stony character of Geranium with all the potency of the deeper base melodies of Musk, Cedarwood, Frankincense, Benzoin, Tonka and Ambergris. Where’s the vetiver? Procter & Gamble has evolved these treatments into fanning the line out, as well — noted at the BaseNotes overview.
All Fragrances by Procter & Gamble
To detail the history of Shulton, interestingly, Old Spice was a woman’s fragrance in the beginning. Wikipedia offers, “The Shulton Company, original producer of Old Spice, was founded in 1934 by William Lightfoot Schultz. And, as noted, the first Old Spice product was a fragrance called Early American Old Spice for women, introduced in 1937. Old Spice for men followed in 1938.
The early men’s products were dominated by shaving soap and aftershave lotion, marketed with a nautical theme. Sailing ships, in particular were used as a trademark. The original ships used on the packaging were the Grand Turk and the Friendship. Other ships used on Old Spice packaging include the John Wesley, Salem,Birmingham, Maria Teresa, Propontis, Recovery, Sooloo, Star of the West, Constitution, Java, United States, and Hamilton. Procter & Gamble purchased Old Spice from the Shulton Company in June 1990. The clipper ship was replaced by the yacht logo in February 1992. In the late 2000s, Procter & Gamble introduced many forms of deodorant sticks, body washes, and body sprays in several scents under the Old Spice brand.
In early 2008, the original Old Spice scent was repackaged as “Classic Scent,” both in the after shave and cologne versions. The traditional white glass bottles gave way to plastic, grey stoppers to red. And Old Spice Classic shower gel is sold using the slogan “The original. If your grandfather hadn’t worn it, you wouldn’t exist.” Many long time users have been disappointed with the “Classic Scent”, as it appears to be a different formula, and grumblings from devotees can even be found on the comments section of Old Spice’s website.”
Like any brand love, there is a substantial trade in collectibles. Some imagery from www.oldspicecollectibles.com They note, furthering the historical review, “Along with shaving mugs and shaving soap for men, Shulton also made toiletries: after shave talc, after shave lotion and cologne for men. (Shulton also had a broad line of toiletries for women.) Men’s toiletries were sold in distinctive containers that generally matched the mugs in style and appearance. The talcum container has always been distinguished from the after shave and the cologne by its shorter taper at the top.”
The original design for the Old Spice bottle came from an antique apothecary bottle.
Based on this design, The Hull Pottery Company developed several sample bottles out of wood, complete with hand painted designs.
1935 First Talc Model and the1935 Second Talc Model
1935-1937 Two Wooden After Shave Bottle Models and a Sample from Hull Pottery
Their analysis continues, “around 1948, the containers’ appearances differentiated the product they contained.” On of the evolution of the treatments, and the industrial design and packaging arrays, the Americana themes are a consistent part of the design language and intention. “The Ship Mt. Vernon first appeared on the talcum container at this time and has remained there ever since. It is the only ship to appear sailing to the right! The Ship Recovery also appeared on the After Shave container about this time. Ship Recovery and Ship Grand Turk were used on both after shave and cologne for the next several years. These earliest containers all had metal stoppers. The containers also changed to a milky glass similar to the mugs.” It goes on and on — minuscule details to the nature of Old Spice form, labeling and subtle evolutions in identity. Examining these treatments, you can see the holding to the principles of the original legacy.
While I’m certain there are strategic underpinnings to the promotional strategy of Old Spice, that being consistent to the complex personality building and brand equity analyses of any of their brands, the distinct outcome is the link to men, the impressions of seaworthiness, adventure and striking masculinity. Old Spice conjures on the one hand, the spice trade, since the nature of the original fragrance grouping, “spices” were part of the components of the scent array. But too, the nature of the original sloops and “tall ships” suggests the very implication of adventuring – distinctly in the impressions from that time. The idea of posturing fragrances as thematically akin to the character of their scent structure — is less than molecularly or impression based alone, but more to the emotional evocation. This is an obvious equation — but looking back to my own experiences, and to the nature of the early relationship, I’d presumed that I was going there. None of that might matter now, to the present consumer — but what would the reach be? Somehow to look at the brand foundations and to rethink how that relationship would be relevantly resized to the value of the emerging generation and the triad of groups that wrap around that connection. I’d offer that if this weren’t the case, there would be no point in linking the racing vessel to the design. What does that have to do with the idea of “old” and “spice?”
To the examination of building on that newly tooled communication plan from Weiden & Kennedy — how does that relate? I’d offer that the brand still stands for the same positioning, but that it’s freshly packaged in a manner that’s relevant. And everything is about relevance – what’s the story, and who cares about it. Studying the site modeling for the Facebook applications — and the tweeted and community messaging — there are conversations happening. And they involve literally thousands of recipients and crossing exchanges. Each of them originates in the conversation that’s being built by Old Spice — that’s not their viral/virile spokesperson, but rather a hidden writer — who it is that speaks? W&K. There’s a string, that rolls — and it’s all part of the lead up to (one of) the top viral video series ever (if we’re to believe AdAge positioning on the posts.)
The current line up — and there are the numbers:
Total them up, onwards? Nearly 60 million views. That’s crazy — but it’s worth bearing in mind that the nature of Old Spice is a long running legacy of success — early 20th century, it was successful, post P&G, still selling; and now it’s moving into another tier of Still, the point is that the story rolls and the repositioning of the Old Spice looks for a new portal to explain the nature of the telling. And the story rolls and rolls. Still, even with the millions of views, this isn’t the best — it’s the top third in the draw, as of the most recent call. The campaign built and reflected on itself — and like we’ve referenced, it’s a matter of reflectivity – what’s told in the community can come from the community. The story goes two ways. So the modeling of the viral messaging moves into “response” mode. Ad Age offers: “The next campaign to do it will probably feature Old Spice’s Isaiah Mustafa, not for the original “Man Your Man Could Smell Like” TV ad, but the “Responses” campaign, where Mustafa recorded customized replies to folks like Kevin Rose, George Stephanopolous, Gizmodo and Biz Stone.”
Current facebook, with testing reach
Surely, with all the social mediators out there, the idea of me intelligently commenting is less than fortified. My reach is about historical brands, the link to scent, the evolution in the telling of the story. In this instance, the idea one story sequencing to another, but built around the premise of a singular personality (and reflecting around that person and the story revealed) — it’s something to the notion of the human brand, and the connection of a telling of persona that attaches to the richness of the product.
There are comments floating out there that even with all that — the millions of hits of reflective views — the viral videos were really part of a wave of similarly framed promotions — men’s body wash — and that tide did raise all ships, as noted here. There’s another closing positioning, of course — and with all the efforts, online or otherwise, print or video, viral or directed — what’s really pushing the product? What’s the point — notes here: about that floating the boat, the fleet shall rise — “Old Spice body wash sales of $5.2 million for the four weeks ended Aug. 8. That’s up 30% vs. a year ago but down 30%-33% from the prior two periods. The latest period is when the Procter & Gamble Co. brand blew through all prior records for viral video viewership thanks to a series of customized videos by Mr. Mustafa and Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., created for the likes of Perez Hilton, Alyssa Milano and Guy Kawasaki.”
My question might be: is there any connection to the past, or is that telling abandoned, and it’s really only about the immediate presence. Going back, to the nature of the archetype, the mythic dimensionality of the brand — male spirit, the masculine scenting sequence — the “men notes” of fragrance — and this too attached to the nature of the sea-borne adventurer, sailor on the oceans of legend — it goes on.
I found this in my cabinet, at the island studio — amazing, I have no idea how old it is. But it still smells good. Kind of uniquely alcoholic — a aldehydic spritzer, hardened bar — but memorable.
T I M | BLACKROCK, IDAHO
H U M A N S, F R A G R A N C E + S O C I A L M E D I A | S t r a t e g i e s
What’s the deal with this? More corvid branding…?!?
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