As the 19th century eccentric Charles Caleb Colton wisely observed, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. For a brand’s marketing campaign to make such a cultural impact that other brands feel that they can begin to ape it rather than mock it is the sign of a job well done.
Not so long ago, Specsavers ran an advert which played on the famous ‘Lynx Effect‘ series, in which the male anti-hero blows his chances of success with a throng of scantily clad beauties by wearing unfashionable glasses. In this instance the reveal came at the end though the attentive viewer would have picked up much earlier that it wasn’t a genuine Lynx advert – if only they had been able to concentrate.
Undoubtably, one of the most celebrated campaigns of 2010 has been the Old Spice ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’ series that made a star of its frontman Isiah Mustafa and completely reframed perceptions of the brand. Though it appeared on TV in the US, the campaign went viral globally once it was posted online and became a pioneer when Mustafa responded to tweets from the public and celebrities alike.
Such was the effect of the campaign that it has inspired imitations of varying quality by a number of parties ranging from brands, TV shows and amateur filmmakers.
The most recent example to pass across Zeitgeist’s desk sees The Sun celebrate their 40th anniversary with model Rosie Jones extolling the many virtues of Page Three.
Having succeeded in turning Old Spice from a staid old mans brand to a cool, talked about brand P&G quickly (and wisely) dropped the campaign before it became boring and a parody of itself.
As such, new versions such as the Page Three example, act as ripples reminding the shared target audience of young males of the originals and the Old Spice brand.
So long as the imitations remain respectful and don’t favour competitors Old Spice remain ‘The Brand You Wish Your Brand Could Innovate Like’.
Zeitgeist has not yet dedicated the time to comment on the increasing number of campaigns involving elements of crowdsourcing, which has become popular enough that last year an agency launched dubbing itself the world’s first crowdsourced ad agency.
The latest campaign to leap onto the bandwagon is for Axe / Lynx, based on the insight that apparently the fairer sex, inscrutable as they are, “get bored easily”. Does this presumption say more about men though than women? One might also question whether corralling a mere 25 students together really constitutes ‘crowdsourcing’.
UPDATE: Great article about crowdsourcing from the Ogilvy New York Digital Labs blog, here.
From the November Zeitgeist…
If the absurd film 300 is anything to go by, men have been shaving their chests and enjoyed taking part in vaguely homoerotic activities for some time. They also seem to have spoken loudly, decisively and dramatically about all manner of things, no matter their import. How different is the man of today? Does he still shave his chest and communicate with declarative statements to no one in particular? Does he need to be reassured by campaign’s such as Ogilvy’s recent entry for Dove that debuted at the SuperBowl?
In the US, Unilever is currently trying to convince men to use a body lotion. After a quick 15-minute workout in which former NFL player Michael Strahan demonstrates working out in a hotel room before smothering Vaseline body lotion over himself; “It takes just 15 seconds for stronger, more resilient skin.” The point is not to convey effeminate qualities in what until now, has clearly been a female-driven domain, but rather to show that a cream can be related to high performance for demanding men. Vaseline research showed that 17% of men “used body lotion at least once a week”, which is more than might have been guessed.
So, while one marketing tone of voice tells us to take care of ourselves in increasingly unexpected ways, another, Maxim, pushes us toward a different direction; “Using too many products makes you a girl”, the magazine dictates. It remains to be seen how playing on tenets of performance and durability will affect sales of products of these kinds in the long-term. The New York Times article on the subject also mentions that Niveaʼs idea of putting their body lotion in the menʼs aisle was not a successful one.
There seems to be no apparent cachet for such a placement. Is this because women do the shop for men and donʼt venture to the menʼs aisle, or is it because men feel comfortable borrowing the products of their partner confident that it works just as well on his skin as hers? Or maybe men donʼt think or want to think about such beauty products in the retail environment. In Paris and Rome, it would be hard for a man to escape a kiss from a male colleague when greeted. For most men in the UK, however, the act ranks somewhere alongside the activities of Caligula.
Reuters however recently reported on an increasingly prevalent inclination in UK men in their teens and early 20s to end texts to each other with a kiss. 75% “regularly [end] texts with a kiss and 48% admitting the practice had become commonplace amongst their group of friends”. Is the prudish, self-aware man becoming more emotive? Ironically it is only in a non-verbal way, for the moment. If a man can be more open with his feelings, he might be more willing to confess his use of cosmetic products, removing any notion of taboo about the subject. If people feel more comfortable discussing such things in the virtual world, social networks would appear to be a convenient place for network effects to take hold…