Smell like a narcissistic man, P&G’s Old Spice seems to tell you


Particularly when it comes to Social Responsibility, can a mother brand and its properties (children) be at variance? Such stark variance? I’m referring to a major FMCG brand like P&G, which has made its Shiksha initiative a big deal and rightly so over years now, and which also launched a heartwarming and awarded ad campaign for its brand Ariel (Share The Load) watch it below and feel good.

Ariel’s sensitive brand campaign:

Through the eyes of an anguished father, P&G’s Ariel’s Share The Load campaign shows how over the years (indeed, centuries, in India) chauvinistic and presumptuous male attitudes have keep pushing all the household chores on to the woman of the house in a backbreaking, thankless way. The ad is telling commentary on not just the men’s selfish opportunism, but also shows off the women in deservedly shining light – ever busy, loving and working hard for the family, balancing a full-time job and her ‘duties’ towards her family.

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P&G’s Old Spice shaving cream: Read the text on the product packaging

But then, from the same group, P&G, I saw some supposedly ‘stylish’, attitude-filled and clever  — to say nothing about ungrammatical — ‘copy’ printed on the packaging and tube of the popular shaving cream for men, Old Spice, which took the entire sensitive Ariel message of the Shikshaa-owning P&G group and its positive social demeanour,  and flushed it down the washbasin sink with the shaving cream lather.

This is what it reads:

SMELL LIKE A MAN

What narcissistic, brand-disparaging ‘copy’ , with such forced ‘logic’ too. Don’t know with which right-minded guy in today’s day and age of better awareness, greater sensitivity and shared responsibilities a silly message like this would resonate with. Not just silly; it’s harmful to the product tooWhat happens when the king of the jungle gets out of the jungle.Dear Man, you hands were not made to carry shopping bags or stroke furry kittens however cute they may be. No, your hands were made so you can sculpt statues of yourself. Or squeeze out a handsome amount of this smooth, man-friendly tube of Old Spice Shaving Cream. Buy it and all else will be forgotten.

Really? What narcissistic, brand-disparaging ‘copy’ with such forced ‘logic’… your hands were not made to carry shopping bags… they were made so you can sculpt statues of yourself, or – here comes the brilliant product connect! – for you to squeeze out a handsome (this shaving cream will make you handsome, right?) amount of this smooth, man-friendly tube of  Old Spice Shaving Cream. Wait, there’s more. You buy this shaving cream and all else will be forgotten. Really? Some air-head wrote the copy, and another approved it, believing there couldn’t possibly be a better iteration of what drives a man of substance. And air-heads like yours truly are buying it too. One is sure not everyone has an inflated sense of their own importance coupled with an equally glaring lack of empathy for others. And what others…? This is the woman of the house! Don’t know with which right-minded guy in today’s day and age of better awareness, greater sensitivity and shared responsibilities a silly message like this would resonate with. Not just silly; it’s harmful to the product too.

With a cluster of different FMCG products across categories, doesn’t P&G have a group branding head who can at least keep the messaging in sync. Sure, not everything needs to overtly socially responsible, but I don’t think allowing it go to the other extreme of disparaging bigger social-good themes and messages the group has been sending out and awarded for, should be allowed. I’m sure the P&G group CMO hasn’t seen this aberration from Old Spice, or the text – doesn’t deserve to be called ‘copy’ – on the product packaging would’ve been changed forthwith.


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