Old Spice’s Viral Ads Got Attention, Not Sales (Updated)

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Guess nobody wants to smell like “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like.”

The Internet has fallen in love with Isaiah Mustafa, the hunky face of Old Spice body wash. His television commercials went viral, as did a two-day YouTube ambush of video replies to fans. Mustafa’s first ad even won the Film Grand Prix at Cannes.

But buzz did not add up to sales, according to advertising news service WARC. Red Zone After Hours body wash sales have fallen seven percent, despite the ads. Yet BNET argues that Mustafa is such a media darling that nixing the campaign would be a PR disaster. So why are sales down?

Jezebel argues the brand sent mixed messages. The ad’s tagline was “Smell Like a Man, Man,” yet Mustafa opens the ads with “Hello, ladies.” Who was supposed to actually buy the body wash? Plus, Old Spice has long been associated with our grandfathers, and it’s going to take more than a shirtless, funny man to change that perception.

Even though the perception is hard to beat, NewsFeed would be crushed if The Man Your Man Could Smell Like left our TV (and computer) screens. We need not fear, though — Mustafa has signed a talent deal with NBC.

(Update: We might have been a little too specific with the sales stats. Though Red Zone After Hours sales went down, overall body wash sales actually went up 107 percent, according to PRWeek. Good — we hope this means more Mustafa in our lives.)