Arguably the hottest viral video these days is the "Manmercial" The Man Your Man Could Smell Like. In just a couple of weeks it has garnered over 2 million views -- far surpassing any of the other spots on the Old Spice YouTube channel.
When I first saw this commercial I laughed, sheepishly, and did not proclaim my love for it on Twitter as I feared that, once again, I would have to surrender my feminist card. But when I saw media critic Harry Allen call the ad's star, Isaiah Mustafa, "luscious man meat" I could resist no longer.
I've been happy to find out that I am not alone in my love for the self-aware humor and sexy-funny of the star. Nordette Adams noticed, too.
I caught it on DVR as I was fast-forwarding. Of course, this brother's body is what caught my eye as it whizzed by, but I also saw his facial expressions and thought, "Hey, wait! He's got to be saying something funny." So, I rewound and yes, he was saying some pretty funny stuff, "Look at your man, now back to me," and so forth. This commercials plays on one of the oldest gender stereotpyes, macho man masculinity. Go, Village People!
In addition to being hilarious, the Old Spice ad succeeds where other commercials for male body washes fail -- not only do men see themselves in the ad, but it speaks directly to women. Win-Win. Take for example Gillette's "Wash like a man, feel like a man" and Dove's Men+Care "The Journey to Comfort." Both try to take on manly-man stereotypes with humor but don't quite get the pitch right and fail to hook viewers (Though, Dove's behind the scenes shower ad with Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees is a bit better).
Part of the reason for the success of the Old Spice ad versus its competitors is because of Isaiah Mustafa's approach. Christie D'Zurilla at the Los Angeles Times' Ministry of Gossip blog interviewed Mustafa and got the scoop on how he came up with his "smell like a man, man" persona:
The Old Spice body wash audition was like any other except ...
... the night before, he called a college buddy, quarterback Jake Plummer, most recently of the NFL's Denver Broncos, to shoot the breeze. Jake wasn't home, but Jake's answering machine was -- so Isaiah, schooled in improvisation, did an over-the-top mini performance of the script he had in hand.
It was over the top in a way that wound up striking the fancy of the public, as it caught the wave of uber ad-awareness that follows Super Bowl Sunday. Playing in theaters while couples hit "Valentine's Day" and "Avatar" last weekend hasn't hurt either.
The other things that make this commercial so funny and compelling are the dialogue ("two tickets to that thing you love") and the seamless single shot take. The story of making the commercial is fascinating. Tech guru Leo Laporte interviewed the creative minds behind the spot who reveal the magic of how it was done.
And, as if it couldn't get any better, comes word that Isaiah Mustafa will be guesting on an upcoming episode of Castle. I guarantee you I will be glued to my set to see the Old Spice Man and Firefly's Nathan Fillion together. I predict that they will have an awesome chemistry not seen since the days of Joey Buchanan and Dorian Lord (3:30 in) from One Life To Live. Hollywood, here's a tip: I will pay money to see these two in a buddy flick.
Do you love the commercial? Hate it? Looking at your man and now back to the Old Spice man?
More Old Spice Love:
Liz Shannon Miller at New TeeVee: The Viral Genius of Wieden+Kennedy's New Old Spice Campaign
Latoya Peterson at Jezebel: Sexy -- And He's On A Horse! The Guy From The Old Spice Commercial
Andrea Grimes at Heartless Doll: Ads gone awesome: Look again. I'm on a horse.
The commercial is also treating constructed gender stereotypes for both men and women with silliness -- I mean, diamonds! And he's on a boat! And he's on a horse! Instead of valorizing some kind of wanky, false male ideal (see the Dockers Man-ifesto), Old Spice is closer to sending up the entire genre of gender-based marketing as a whole.
BlogHer CE Maria Niles loves on pop culture at Beyond Help.
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