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Old Spice: The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

Close Textual Rhetorical Analysis of an Old Spice Commercial

Kristine Kenney

on 2 May 2013

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Transcript of Old Spice: The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

Kristine Kenney
Creative Project Close Textual Analysis of
Old Spice:
The Man Your Man
Could Smell Like This commercial first aired right before the 2010 Superbowl, and ended up going viral. In fact, it became so popular that it ended up gaining more YouTube views than the video of Obama's 2008 election speech within the first 24 hours of their postings. Additionally, since the release of the commercial, there has been a 300% increase in traffic to the Old Spice website, and Old Spice now has the most viewed sponsored YouTube channel.
About the Commercial Since this commercial is a means of propaganda, there is a high amount of sensationalism in the text. For example, the gradual transition from the ordinary (a man stepping out of the shower), to the bizarre (a shirtless man riding a horse on a beach), helps emphasize the fact that "everything is possible with Old Spice." Overall, the text is very persuasive not because of its reasonable logic, but because of its emotion-driven hyperbole that appeals to the audience's sense of humor. Evaluation "Hello, ladies, look at your man, now back to me, now back at your man, now back to me. Sadly, he isn’t me, but if he stopped using ladies scented body wash and switched to Old Spice, he could smell like he’s me." As the commercial begins, the man specifically addresses the women. He first builds his ethos by asking the women to compare their men to himself, in which case, the men in the audience fall short. After building his credibility, he then creates an argument. The Major Premise being that the men in the audience do not look like the him, minor premise being that ladies-scented body wash is not associated with him, which leads to the conclusion that replacing ladies-scented body wash with Old Spice can at least help the men in the audience associate themselves with him. "Look down, back up, where are you? You’re on a boat with the man your man could smell like." "What’s in your hand? Back at me. I have it, it’s an oyster with two tickets to that thing you love. Look again, the tickets are now diamonds." "Anything is possible when your man smells like Old Spice and not a lady. I’m on a horse." As the scene quickly transitions from the shower to a boat,the man in the commercial dives into support for his argument. However, in this case, the logic supporting his argument is suddenly replaced with emotion. Rather than attempt to convince the audience of how Old Spice logically makes men smell like a "real man," he continues to appeal to the ethos and pathos of his audience. Ethos can be found in the man magically appearing on a boat, which further proves his credibility to the women he is addressing, by showing that he can treat them better than the men in their lives can (aka he has the ability to whisk you away onto a luxurious boat; all while shirtless). Additionally, he appeals to the pathos of the audience, by attracting their humor through the ridiculousness of one magically appearing on a boat. The man in the commercial further continues to build his ethos by revealing to women how true men (like himself) should treat them. He also continues to strengthen his pathos in this portion of the commercial by encouraging the women to fall even more in love with his chivalry, while appealing to his audience's humor through how over-the-top and improbable his gifts are. Stylistically, he also uses the tool of hyperbole, by exaggerating the effects of what can happen to a man who uses Old Spice (aka, they can be like a man who can make diamonds magically appear in his hands). The commercial stars Isaiah Mustafa, who was originally an NFL practice squad wide-receiver before his acting debut. In this ad, Mustafa has the role of a "real man," who goes about doing random and somewhat bizarre acts that are meant to impress women, make men jealous, and encourage an audience to purchase Old Spice products. Description Significance In this last clip, the jump from one train of thought ("Anything is possible...") to an entirely different one ("I'm on a horse") further emphasizes the sensationalism occurring in the text. It is one last statement to prove to the women in his audience that they want their men to use Old Spice, so that they can at the very least smell like the man in the commercial. Additionally, the fact that he is shirtless, on a horse, and on a beach, further adds to the pathos of the commercial, and attracts the audience's humor in regards to what he is saying. Why Close Textual
Analysis? Through breaking down the rhetorical artifact into its different scenes, I can analyze its formal elements and style in a detailed and precise manner. Classification The text is categorized into the different scenes of the commercial in order to take a more in-depth look at it, and be able to pick out markers of style. Analysis and Interpretation Additionally, this text is effective because it targets both male and female audiences. Despite Old Spice being a brand for men, the fact that the commercial specifically addresses the women is extremely effective. By doing this, women become more likely to purchase the Old Spice brand for the men in their lives, because they're convinced that their man can possibly gain similar qualities to the amazing man in the commercial by doing so. However, men are additionally drawn to the commercial because of its humor because they also want to be like the man in the commercial in order to impress women. Therefore, the text is very effective in persuading its audience to purchase Old Spice.
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