A case study in marketing research strategy: Old Spice

By Tom Dougherty
A case study in marketing research strategy: Old Spice

A case study in marketing research strategy: Old Spice

In the upcoming Old Spice TV spot, owner Proctor & Game employs a marketing research strategy few actually try. Let alone accomplish.

Most, even Old Spice, miss the point entirely.

P&G’s research found that three out of five men say the pandemic has affected their mental health negatively. So, therefore, the Old Spice ad creates what it thinks is that environment.

“I seriously doubt Old Spice’s target audience identifies with this marketing research strategy. They don’t really see themselves in it. It smells (pun intended) too much like marketing.”

Brands conduct research all the time. But they often ask the wrong questions. And rarely turn that knowledge into an effective marketing research strategy.

On the face of it, the Old Spice spot DOES use marketing intelligence. Well, if men feel their mental health suffers…then let’s liven things up. “Smell Ready for Anything” the tagline says.

The problem is Old Spice didn’t really understand its research. The guys in the ad don’t look like their mental health is being affected. They just look bored. Basically, Old Spice just heard what it wanted to hear. Men want to be active.

But that’s not what the research says. Think of this, a much more effective marketing research strategy would be if they actually showed the guys losing it. Going completely apeshit.

Using marketing research strategy means risking offense

My guess is Old Spice (and, by proxy, P&G) were too nervous to take that route. Big companies by nature are conservative in their approach. They don’t want to offend anyone.

But to be heard above all the marketing noise consumers see and hear, you need to truly stand out. Otherwise, you just get lost in the noise. And forgotten.

Marketing Research StrategyI also can guess they didn’t test precepts. You know, the emotional drivers underpinning our decisions. They would answer the reasons why the pandemic negatively affects their mental health. If incorporated correctly, target audiences then see themselves so strongly in the brand they’re incapable of choosing someone else.

I seriously doubt Old Spice’s target audience identifies with this marketing research strategy. They don’t really see themselves in it. It smells (pun intended) too much like marketing.

I’d give it a B for effort. But transforming what you’ve learned through research means going deeper. And risking offense. Because the price of clarity always risks offense.

Instead, Old Spice just dumbed it down. And didn’t trust its own research.

See more posts in the following related categories: Advertising market research

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