This is a commercial for… fruit?

The contemporary cultural product advertisement that I chose is an Old Spice commercial. It is surprising how clever an advertisement for bar soap can be. Several concepts from both the Marketing Through Sensory Memory and Product Advertising readings are present. Although not much information is given about the soap itself, this anti-ad is engaging and effective. It definitely got my attention.

This Old Spice commercial begins with a young good looking guy is in the shower. He then catches a basketball out of nowhere, and walks out into the locker room; this happens while the narrator is saying/singing with music “If you’re playing to win, here’s a brand new soap for you”.  The guy then cuts open the basketball to reveal that it is actually a watermelon while the narrator says “Nope, I was wrong, this is a commercial for fruit”.  The guy digs into the watermelon and  pulls out a bar of Old Spice soap and then smiles prettily at the camera while the narrator says “Nope, I was right, it’s a really great commercial for soap”.

This Old Spice commercial is trying to sell bar soap, specifically body soap. Although the commercial never mentions the scent of the soap, the description for the video states that it is for Fiji Bar Soap from Old Spice. The audience for this product is probably catered mainly towards males in the age range of eighteen to mid-thirties. However, I must say that it was persuasive to me, and I would be more apt to buy this product; so clearly the audience affected is vaster than the typical consumer of this product.  Usually, when it comes to bath and body products, even those for men, there is a good chance that a majority of women will be buying them. Not to sound sexist, but there is a fair amount of moms, girlfriends, and wives who buy products for their sons, boyfriends, and husbands. So the fact that this commercial appealed to me is probably a good sign. I would say that this advertisement was created to be geared toward a younger, hipper crowd. It is humorous, clever, witty, and gets the message across quickly.

The Marketing Through Sensory Memory reading talks about how “rather than marketing a product or brand on its rational or functional attributes… marketers now sell brands on their experiential or emotional dimensions” (85). This concept is apparent in the Old Spice commercial. Nothing is really said about the soap itself, instead, the advertisement relies more on its cleverness to persuade the audience. The audience is not given any rational information on the effectiveness of the soap, or if the price is a good value. By being humorous and outside the status quo, Old Spice hopes to sell their bar soap to consumers. I think that Old Spice was smart to use humor in their advertisement rather than trying to use sex to sell products, like many other brands of body wash and deodorant do. Axe is the brand that comes to mind the most when I think of sexist advertisements of the personal hygiene category. While some of the commercials for Axe may be funny as well, they also run the risk of offending females; females who may be the ones actually buying the product. Plus, if an advertisement for men’s body wash is focused on some chick in the shower or washing a car, most guys will not even remember the product trying to be sold. They will probably remember the hot girl, but they would likely have no recollection of what the advertisement was actually about. There is definitely a line that can be overstepped when it comes to marketing to sensations and emotions.

As far as the type of advertisement, this is clearly an anti-ad. The Product Advertising reading states that anti-ads “are persuasive because, in an era of hypercommunication, we value the creativity integrated into them” (427). The Old Spice commercial uses self-parody and the knowing wink concepts. The fact that the narrator himself is unsure of what the commercial is about; soap or fruit; is clearly a distortion of the traditional role of a narrator. The guy cutting the basketball open and then digging out the bar of soap is also unexpected and funny. The description of the commercial on YouTube is also self-parody. It reads “While the fabled isle of Fiji may or may not actually exist, new Fiji Bar Soap from Old Spice definitely does exist, probably at a grocery store or a sports area or somewhere else”. Although it is subtle, the fact that the guy looks directly at the audience at the end with perfect smile would be an example of a knowing wink ad, since this breaks the fourth wall.

I would say that this commercial is definitely effective. I am not ashamed to say that I appreciated it and found it persuasive. It was funny, creative, unique, and visually interesting. I really cannot think of a way that I would change it. The only suggestion I would have would be to have the frame with the soap and the Old Spice logo at the end be a little bit longer, just one or two seconds more. This is only because if someone where seeing this, they might not catch the brand of soap because it goes by so fast. Other than that, I thought that this was a self-parody advertisement well done; after all, it persuaded me.            –Carly Thompson

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