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Old Spice Sniffs Grammy Advertising for First Time

Procter & Gamble added a new advertising scent to CBSGrammys broadcast.

Viewers watching the show’s first hour on Sunday evening may have been slightly confused by a commercial – broadcast entirely in French – in which a woman bemoans the loss of, well, someone or something related to Old Spice. But is it her romantic interest? A deodorant? Something else? Only people who speak French will know for sure.

Old Spice has become known in recent years for using a whiff of the oddball and bizarre to get young male consumers – between 18 and 34 years old – more interested in what it has to say. In 2010, the brand and its ad agency, Wieden + Kennedy, captured attention for a campaign that featured a suave gentleman talking to women about “the man your man could smell like.” P&G bet that women would have some say in the purchase decisions of a significant other.

Executives are testing something different as well with the Grammys– the first time Old Spice has advertised in the event. The event, says Janine Miletic, marketing director for Procter & Gamble’s Old Spice, Secret and Gillette deodorants, reaches large numbers of both sexes, and will capture the audience needed to spur conversation around the commercial.

“It’s a little over the top, a little ridiculous. But it might have people actually going, ‘What was that?’ What happened? What’s going on?’” explains Miletic in an interview. “We are hoping people are going to go online to check this out.”

CBS had been seeking around $1 million for a 30-second spot in Sunday’s broadcast, according to a media buyer and another person familiar with negotiations. The Super Bowl and the Oscars are better known for featuring eye-grabbing commercials, but in recent years the Grammys have launched much more interesting fare. In 2015, Target used four minutes of ad time to show Imagine Dragons playing live from Las Vegas. One year later, Stefani performed a “music-video” concept in real time, a Target conceit that involved seven costume changes and a roller-skating sequence.

“We were looking for a big media opportunity and what would generate the most buzz,” says Miletic. And while the Super Bowl – the biggest media opportunity of the year – is just a week away, P&G felt it would get more return on an investment in the Grammys. “The Super Bowl is relatively expensive. It’s a very crowded space and there are a lot of brands vying for attention during that window,” says Miletic. “We like to zig where others zag.”

P&G will follow up its Old Spice ad with on-the-ground efforts at the Super Bowl, offering samples and promotions to fans coming to the game, which will be played in Minneapolis February 4.

Oh, and the ad is meant to draw attention to a new “Red Line” of Old Spice products, with names like “Captain,” “Ambassador” and “Nomad.” Procter says the scents are designed to last longer and are inspired by fragrance trends that call for better ingredients.

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