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Transcript of Analytical Essay
The purpose of this paper is to analyse the semiotics of a selected advertisement. The analysis of the advertisement will discuss the signs and symbols present and the elements of communicative behaviour in the language, gestures and clothing of the commercial. The advertisement that is being examined in this analysis is the famous Old Spice advertisements. It was in 2010 that ex-NFL wide receiver Isaiah Mustafa first appeared on our screens with the ‘Smell Like a Man, Man’ commercials. These advertisements rapidly went viral and a mass amount of attention was gained worldwide. Within 12 months of the advertisement appearing on television, the commercial had been viewed on YouTube more than 40 million times (Pritchard, 2010).
These two advertisements have Mustafa consistently retelling the female viewers that by using Old Spice body wash their men can be more like him. The commercials rely not only on the attractiveness of the actor to appeal to women, but the humour in that such a perfect man may actually exist. According to Holly Buchanan “Humour in advertising appeals to both sexes, but it is especially powerful with women” (Buchanan, 2006). By constructing an advertisement that appeals to both men and women, a broader consumer market is established as women may choose to buy this product for another male or even for themselves, over the competitors on the market.
Marc Pritchard at the ANA conference.
The commercial that follows the first is the second most popular in the campaign also beginning with Isaiah Mustafa in only a towel however this time he is positioned on a beach. Following the same design as the previous advertisements the scenes shift rapidly listing numerous tasks that would appeal to women this time concluding on a motorcycle.
Image by Tom Mooring
The Man Your Man Could Smell Like
The Man Your Man Could Smell Like II
Specifically looking at the first “Smell Like a Man, Man” advertisement, numerous connotations are present. The build of the actor, Mustafa, strongly suggests masculinity, fitness and female desirability. Throughout the entire commercial Mustafa’s character oozes self-confidence and self-awareness of his physique. He is also only wearing a white towel, which later transitions into white pants when he moves onto the boat and beach location. In western culture, the colour white represents purity, peace and goodness, and is normally contrasted with black to show good and evil, bad and good. In the commercial, the colour is used to portray the product as being good and something that can be trusted. Once on the boat, Mustafa lists a number of items all which would be desirable to woman, one of these being diamonds. The use of the diamonds in the commercial suggests wealth and fortune. Through the use of the beach, the setting suggests warmth, relaxation and a worry free sensation duplicating a holiday scenario. Combined, these suggest that wealth, relaxation, purity, and desirability can all be gained through the use of this product.
The ‘Smell Like a Man, Man’ has had numerous commercials however the most popular and well known of these is the first two. The first ad begins with Mustafa coming out of a shower only wearing a towel. He begins by directly talking to women viewers telling them to alternately look at him and then the man they are accompanied by implying the comparison would be unfavourable to any regular man. The commercial then follows on with rapid shifting scenes that show the actor in a romantic setting directed at women, shirtless on a sailboat holding numerous objects that would appeal to a woman and then concluding on a white stallion.
The campaign effectively used the testimonial technique by showcasing Mustafa, as he is the only character present throughout the advertisement. This technique is especially effective when the commercial is first being observed as it gives the viewer a reason to immediately pay attention, whether they know the actor or not. Through the use of humour, the viewer is given a reason to pay attention each time the commercial comes on effectively resonating Old Spice into the consumers mind. The technique of imagery was also used effectively throughout the advertisement yet not through the use of symbols and illustrations but through the use of props. The way the advertisement consistently uses props alongside the amazing transitioning between them highly recommends itself to an enjoyable viewing experience. Together all these techniques have created an interesting and unique commercial which truly deserves the success that has followed.
The methodology used for the Old Spice campaign highly showcases the creative potential that advertisements have. It is unfortunate to know of this potential and then to only be presented with repetitive generic commercials that have always been around. The strategy positioning that the company has taken advertises the message that Old Spice is the brand for manly men, in contrast to most other men’s hygiene products that position the viewers to believe that their products will make women more sexually attractive to them.
Old Spice’s advertisements have been considered appropriate and ethical in comparison to other male beauty products on the market such as Lynx or Rexona, as the Old Spice commercial targets men more emotionally instead of filling their ads with images of attractive women and strongly promoting sexual appeal. The advertisements very clearly state that if you use their product you can be just like the man in the commercial, you can “Smell like a man, man”. They are targeting men emotionally by pointing out that they aren’t currently the man their lady wants them to be and by demonstrating what the perfect man is, they are directly appealing to men’s masculinity and insecurities.
At the ANA conference in 2010, Procter & Gamble Co. Global Brand-Building Officer Marc Pritchard describes the companies thinking behind targeting men’s insecurities for marketing their product. “We recognise that guys have a lot of uncertainties when it comes to being a man, and believe it or not they don’t like asking for advice. I mean think about it, we don’t even ask for directions when we are hopelessly lost why would we ask anyone for help when it comes to manhood”. (Pritchard, 2010). By integrating humour into the advertisement in such a successful way and still sending a focused message the campaign captured the attention not only of males but left an outstanding impression on numerous generations through social media with the advertisement virally going global.
A researcher at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, Mark Federman states “the campaign’s success boils down to just a very, very simple idea. We collectively in our society like good storytelling. We like cleverness. We like unusual humour and we like humour juxtaposed with surreality.” (Baute, 2010). The Old Spice commercials use humour to promote that although you may not possess flawless chiselled features, if you use Old Spice body wash you can at least smell manly. “People respond to humour more than anything... [The] younger target, especially a young, male target, if you don’t entertain them in some way, they will not take your commercial seriously.” (Leiss & Botterill, 2005, p. 435). In an interview regarding target market, Esi Eggleston-Bracey, the general manager of Old Spice, stated that “What we learned over the years was we can get teen and young adults by targeting what we call “the sweet spot”. We know teens aspire a little older, and we know adults aspire a little younger. That tends to be the 20 something’s” (Eggleston-Bracey, 2004).
“Customer Insight is the intersection between the interests of the consumer and features of the brand. Its main purpose is to understand why the consumer cares for the brand as well as their underlying mindsets, moods, motivation, desires, aspirations, and motivates that trigger their attitude and actions” (Customer Insight, 2014). For beauty products, the consumer’s insight is primarily the idea that using the product will enhance appearances and make us more attractive to the opposite sex. The Old Spice commercials entice men by targeting the needs of women displaying the ideal image of how a man should be.
In conclusion, this paper has analysed the symbols and the communicative of the “Smell Like a Man, Man” commercial from the company Old Spice by discussing the techniques and connotations used to sell the product as well as argued how successful the commercials strategy was in comparison to its competitors. With the amount of advertisements that flood our television screens, YouTube videos and even through our social media pages, getting an advertisement to grab our attention can be deemed difficult. We thrive off creativity, content, humour and emotion. “Humour secures attention, engagement, liking, and a positive affect towards the brand. Audiences willingly will sit through a sales message for a laugh.” (Leiss & Botterill, 2005, p. 435). The Old Spice “Smell Like a Man, Man” commercial is an all over successful piece of work. It grabs the attention of both sexes, making the viewing an enjoyable experience.
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