Scroll Top

Brand Strategy Example: Old Spice, Tigers & Krakens

Brand Strategy Example: Old Spice, Tigers & Krakens

Leveraging a Fine Fragrance Approach for a Drugstore Brand

The other day, I visited the men’s section of personal care products in my local grocery store to pick up my husband’s favorite aftershave, Old Spice.  Since it is not a section that I normally view, I was surprised by the explosion of new products and brands aimed specifically at men.  Brands like Dove Men’s + Care, Jack Black, Method, Irish Spring and many more.  Although these brands filled a few shelves, Old Spice was king of the aisle not only with its aftershave but with deodorants/antiperspirants, body washes and hair care products as well.  Moreover, Old Spice had morphed into a brand supported by tigers and krakens.   Any brand strategy example that can pull off a kraken deserves to be profiled.

Brand Strategy Example:
The Long History of Personal Care Products

Soap, the first personal care product, has been around a long time.  Evidence of soap-making through recipes for soap date back over 5,000 years.  Like many useful products, its discovery was likely by accident – the accidental combination of wood ashes with animal fat from cooking.  Mixing these two ingredients together causes a chemical reaction called saponification and creates the slippery slurry that hardens into soap.  Soap works by bonding with dirt and carrying it away down the drain with the water.

Since the 1800’s, personal care products have become more specific in their duties, with products to:

  • clean hair (at the right pH level, please)
  • stop underarm odor and perspiration
  • clean the entire body
  • …and much more (face washes, tooth care, etc.)

Brand Strategy Example:
The Short Version of the History of Old Spice

Oddly enough, the first Old Spice product introduced in 1937 was a fragrance for women called Early American Old Spice.   A men’s fragrance followed in 1938.  Both products did well for its creator, the Shulton Company.  The path that led Old Spice to become a men’s-only brand is unclear, but by the 1970s, Old Spice was a popular men’s personal care product. 

This brand strategy example was purchased by Procter & Gamble in 1990, and it underwent a rebranding in 2010 to connect to the younger generation.  In the last 10 years, P&G has continued to strengthen this revitalized brand with new products and approaches borrowed from the men’s fine fragrance industry.

In April 2023, Old Spice further built on this $564 million brand, by expanding into bar soaps leveraging their manly approach.  Jason Partin, Old Spice brand manager, says: 

“We know that 42 percent of guys use bar soap in the shower, but only 15 percent of bar soap has ‘manly’ scents.”

Brand Strategy Example:
Appealing to the Emotional Side of a Man

According a Forbes magazine article, “5 Best Body Washes for Men” (2021), men have hygiene needs different from women, with skin that has:

“20% more thickness, higher collagen levels and more oiliness.” 

Products designed to meet these functional needs have been part of the impetus behind the strong growth of personal care products for men.  The other part is telling a tale to create an emotional tie to the product. 

This type of storytelling has been a large part of marketing fragrances.  An ounce or two of cologne costing hundreds of dollars needs to do more than smell good.  It needs to be an elixir with magical properties that bestows sex appeal, confidence and successes of all kinds.   Men’s fine fragrances are champion brand strategy examples, weaving these intoxicating tales as part of their marketing.

Brand Strategy Example: Old Spice, Tigers & Krakens

For example, Creed’s Aventus fragrance is a:

“Sophisticated fruity and rich fragrance blend for individuals who savor a life well lived.  The exceptional Aventus was inspired by the dramatic life of a historic emperor, celebrating strength, power and success…[the] iconic name [is] derived from ‘a’ (‘from’) and ‘ventus’ (‘the wind’), illustrating the Aventus man as destined to live a driven life, ever galloping with wind at his back, toward success.” (Creed Aventus ad)

All this “life well lived” can be yours for merely $375 for a 1.7 ounce bottle (Nordstrom). 

Brand Strategy Example: Old Spice, Tigers & Krakens

Another brand with a story to tell is The Tragedy of Lord George.  For $225 you could have 75 ml of this elixir which could somehow link you to:

“Lord George is a wealthy and respected man, the archetypal patriarch.  Faithful to king and country.  He seems to embody the noblest of value of the aristocracy: virtue, respect, loyalty and faithfulness.  His fragrance reflects his essence; seemingly traditional, yet with hidden secrets – The flesh is weak.”

Brand Strategy Example: Old Spice, Tigers & Krakens

Upscale brands have entered the men’s body wash market by building off their high end image.  Brand strategy examples include Dior Homme Shower Gel ($99 for 6.8 ounces) and Aesop’s Citrus Mélange Body Cleanser ($49 for 16.9 ounces, a real bargain).

Brand Strategy Example:
Old Spice Tells a Story of Value

But not all men want to spend this kind of money to participate in a manly story.  This is where Old Spice comes in, with their stories told right on the bottle – Krakengard, Bearglove and Nightpanther (to name the most obvious).  All portray adventure, manliness and strength in a straightforward clear message for under $10.  

Bearglove is “For the commanding man” while Nightpanther promises its user to “Smell Sniffworthy.”  All three portray the animal in attack mode, in aggressive action and baring teeth (if they have them, which Krakens do not seem to). While no tale of Lord George is told, nor are we treated to images of the wind at our backs pushing us to success, Old Spice tells a tale that is just as powerful in its image—without using any words.

Brand Strategy Example: Old Spice, Tigers & Krakens

And, the tale does not stop with these definitions of manliness.  Other versions of manliness are portrayed in other Old Spice versions.   The Old Spice Swagger line is quietly confidant with its styled lions, reminiscent of a royal coat of arms.  GentleMan’s blend is a play on words for the gentle-on-skin attributes of this product designed for sensitive skin.

Brand Strategy Example: Old Spice, Tigers & Krakens

Along with telling the story right on the bottle, Old Spice is known for its spicy advertisements. One brand strategy example features Patti LaBelle, Deon Cole and Gabrielle Dennis engaged in a family feud over who is using all the Old Spice body wash.

Brand Strategy Example: Outlaw Tells a Story of the American West

Brand Strategy Example: Old Spice, Tigers & Krakens

As good as Krakengard and Nightpanther tell their story with their packaging, they cannot compete with my favorite brand strategy example to enhance the brand for men – Outlaw’s Blazing Saddles Body Wash.  Their tagline is “Exciting sundries for adventurous people.”  Using this body wash is the means to “Be the sexiest in the West.”  You join in the Outlaw community where:

“An Outlaw is a darn American hero.  They smell of leather, sandalwood, gunpowder, sage, nighttime campfire, (daybreak campfire), and a little dirt.  An Outlaw smells like the essence of badassery.  Outlaws use soap that was used by the cowboys of legend.  A soap that makes a married man late for work.  A soap that invigorates the outlaw within and drives them to GET.IT.DONE.  But make no mistake, nothing but NOTHING gets done before sudsing up and washing until clean.”

Old Spice is a brand strategy example of a product line that is popular with US men across demographics—age, geography, ethnicity, etc. It shows the power of playfully telling a story that speaks to the heart of its customers. I look forward to the next time my husband asks me to pick up his aftershave, so I can see what new stories Old Spice has come up with.

For more brand strategy examples, visit our Brand Strategy Resources. Meet with our experts during an Office Hours Event, or subscribe to our Insights newsletter.