The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

The Man Your Man Could Smell Like
The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

Isaiah Mustafa is the Man Your Man Could Smell Like
Client Old Spice
Product Old Spice Body Wash
Agency Wieden+Kennedy
Directed by Tom Kuntz
Starring Isaiah Mustafa
Release date(s) February 8, 2010 (2010-02-08)
Running time 0:33[1]
Country United States
Language English
Official website

Smell Like a Man, Man[2] is a television advertising campaign created by ad agency Wieden+Kennedy for Old Spice. The campaign is also commonly referred to as The Man Your Man Could Smell Like, being the title of the campaign's initial 30-second commercial. The campaign was initially launched to market Old Spice's Red Zone After Hours Body Wash, but has subsequently been expanded to include other products following the success of the initial advertisements. The campaign targets female viewers, despite the product's target market being male, as the company determined that women frequently make purchasing decisions in respect of hygiene products even for male household members.[3]

The campaign centres around the titular "Man Your Man Could Smell Like", played by actor Isaiah Mustafa (Old Spice refers to him as "Old Spice Man") addressing the viewer in confident, rapid-fire monologues which promote the benefit of using Old Spice products. While reciting the monologues, Mustafa nonchalantly progresses through various activities, locations, costumes, and/or extraordinary situations, all while maintaining constant eye-contact with the camera, and a nonchalant demeanor. The advertisements typically feature a surprise ending.



Initial commercials

The campaign was launched with two commercials: The primary 30-second spot, and a shorter 15-second companion piece, both written by Craig Allen and Eric Kallman of Wieden+Kennedy. The spots promote Old Spice's Red Zone After Hours Body Wash.

The original ad, entitled "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" was directed by Tom Kuntz, and features Mustafa reciting a monologue about how "anything is possible" if a man uses Old Spice. In a single uncut shot, Mustafa transitions from a bathroom to a sailboat to a riding a horse on the beach, all without pausing his monologue or breaking eye-contact with the camera for more than a moment. The punchline of the commercial is Mustafa's non sequitur final statement: "I'm on a horse", delivered as the camera zooms out to reveal to the viewer that Mustafa is now sitting atop a horse.

Allen and Kallman confirmed that the commercial was filmed in a single uninterrupted take[3] requiring three days of shooting and numerous attempts to achieve a successful take. Minimal computer-generated imagery (CGI)was used, consisting of overlaying a separately-shot artificial hand during the segment where diamonds flow from Mustafa's palm, and the body wash raises through the pile of diamonds with a separate shot of the hand filmed separately.[3] The remaining effects were practical and achieved on-set, including a crane lifting the bathroom set from above, a crew member dropping a pre-formed shirt over Mustafa's head from above, and a cart which carried Mustafa from the boat set onto the back of a horse.[3][4]

Filmed at the same time as the main commercial was a 15-second "sting"[5] entitled "Did You Know", in which the camera pulls back from a close-up of Mustafa to reveal that he is riding a horse backwards.[6]


In June 2010, a third commercial entitled "Questions" began to air on television. The new commercial followed a similar single-shot format to the original ad, and again promoted Old Spice Red Zone After Hours Body Wash.

The ad expanded upon the first commercial, which featured two changes of location, and only one on camera (the bathroom "set" lifting away)[3]. In "Questions", there were more frequent changes of location with more extravagant transitions. Mustafa begins at a shower station on the beach. The scenery splits in half (as do false legs and a towel) and pulls away to reveal Mustafa log rolling before he walks across the surface of a lake (catching a falling cake mid-stride) into a kitchen (power-sawing a countertop mid-stride) to the top of a waterfall which he "swan dives" off of into a hot tub, which then collapses to reveal that Mustafa is sitting on a motorcycle, his shorts having been replaced by jeans. He performs the entire commercial without breaking eye contact with the camera. As all this happens, Mustafa addresses female viewers, maintaining eye-contact with the camera throughout the ad, and asking rhetorical questions on what they like, implying that if their man used Old Spice then he could bring them these things.[7]

The ad was again shot primarily in one take,[8] involving an automatically rolling log, [8] an under-water platform, and a set consisting of the kitchen, waterfall and hot tub containing water and a motorcycle. The walls of the hot tub were rigged to mechanically raise and lower.[8] Support wires were used to control Mustafa's dive from the waterfall.[8] Footage of rehearsals of the ad begin with the log-rolling, suggesting that the opening beach segment may include separately-shot or computer-generated elements. The background also appears to be enhanced.[8]

Another 15-second ad entitled "Boat" was produced as a secondary spot. It features Mustafa in a rowboat pulling off a "fake" mustache, and then "pulling off" the newly revealed skin to reveal another moustache.

Scent Vacation

A third series of commercials debuted in early 2011, this time promoting Old Spice Fresh Collection Antiperspirant and Deodorant. The branding of the product line revolves around different world locations. In keeping with that theme, the 30-second commercial is entitled "Scent Vacation", and continues to maintain and expand upon the style of the previous ads. In the ad, Mustafa notes that "when your man smells like Old Spice, you can go anywhere."

In "Scent Vacation", Mustafa begins on a beach in a grass skirt. The beach drops away and the skirt flies off to reveal Mustafa in mountaineering pants atop a mountain peak. He dives from the mountain, into water, appearing to swim through it, only to reveal it as a fishtank which passes as the camera rotates to reveal Mustafa lying on his side in white slacks on top of a piano in a lavish living room.

Responding to interest in the creation of the previous spots, an official behind-the-scenes video was released for "Scent Vacation".[9] It reveals that much of the ad is again produced practically, with some camera tricks.[9] For his dive from the mountaintop, Mustafa was raised on wires as the camera spun to simulate Mustafa's movement. Ultimately, the living room in which Mustafa is shown was built against a vertical wall, and the camera was rotated 90-degrees to make the room appear normally oriented.

Unlike the previous commercials, which were shot outdoors, "Scent Vacation" was shot on a soundstage. More computer-generated imagery was used in this commercial than in the prior ads. The sand and sky of the initial beach scene, and the entire mountain backdrop were added in post-production; wires were painted out, as were seams where two scenery pieces came together; fish were added to the aquarium; chocolate was added to a fondue fountain in the living room, and a stick of fondue foods were added to Mustafa's hand.

Two 15-second spots were produced, entitled "Fiji" and "Komodo", after two of the scents in the product line. In "Fiji", a beach scene is shown as Mustafa's voice is heard. Mustafa raises from beneath the sand with an acoustic guitar which he opens to reveal that it contains puppies.

In "Komodo", Mustafa appears to stand at the base of a hill atop which sits an ancient palace. The palace is revealed to be a miniature, as Mustafa opens the front wall to reveal the product. He then walks over to a komodo dragon and pulls open its back to reveal a cooler containing ice cream.

The three spots share a common thread of misleading items containing other items. Aside from the guitar, the palace and the komodo dragon, Mustafa also picks up a mountain goat in "Scent Vacation" which he spins around to reveal a harp. [10]

Additional Materials

Mustafa gained significant popularity and notoriety from the initial ads, and he and Old Spice capitalized by producing a plethora of online videos featuring Mustafa in-character. In a series of videos, Mustafa responded by video to numerous Twitter posts directed to Old Spice's twitter account, including several videos directed towards celebrities. Other longer videos were created as well.

In 2011, it was announced that Fabio would become the Old Spice spokesman, leading to criticism from fans of Mustafa. This lead to a poll as to which spokesman viewers preferred. A "Mano a Mano" video was produced featuring a confrontation between the two.


The New York Daily News gave the initial ad a favorable mention, citing Mustafa's "wildly smug, cool-cat smooth dude persona" which "helped make the cologne commercial pop".[11] People magazine's Blane Bachelor called Mustafa's monologue "sharply scripted" and his character "smug, and over the top".[12] The commercial was a hit on video sharing websites, such as YouTube, where it has already received over 34,700,000 views, as of 08/06/11.[1] In June 2010 it won the Grand Prix for film at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival[13] and in July 2010 the ad won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Commercial.[14]

In popular culture

The spot has been parodied on Sesame Street, where the monster Grover takes Mustafa's role to illustrate the word 'on'.[15] However, his narrations do not go as smoothly: the dropped shirt fails to fall around his neck; the clam containing the tickets bites his nose, forcing him to fling it away; and despite claiming he is on a horse at the end, he is actually on a cow.[16]

It was also parodied on iCarly, on the episode "iOMG".

There was also a parody made to advertise the 2011 film Puss in Boots.


  1. ^ a b The Man Your Man Could Smell Like on YouTube
  2. ^ Old Spice campaign video page
  3. ^ a b c d e The making of Old Spice's commercial: The Man Your Man Could Smell Like on YouTube
  4. ^ Behind The Scenes video of one of the takes of the original commercial
  5. ^ Old Spice: Did You Know I'm Riding This Horse Backwards?
  6. ^ Old Spice: Did You Know I'm Riding This Horse Backwards?
  7. ^ Old Spice on YouTube
  8. ^ a b c d e Behind the Scenes video of "Questions" rehearsal with a stand-in
  9. ^ a b Scent Vacation - Behind The Scenes
  10. ^ Scent Vacation
  11. ^ Dziemianowicz, Joe (2010-02-25). "Old Spice's 'the man your man could smell like,' Isaiah Mustafa, gets big break with hit commercial". New York Daily News. 
  12. ^ Bachelor, Blane (2010-02-24). "Meet the Hot New Old Spice Guy". People.,,20346563,00.html. 
  13. ^ Wentz, Laurel. "Old Spice's Manly Body Wash TV Spot Takes Film Grand Prix". Creativity Online. Crain Communications. Retrieved 14 July 2010. 
  14. ^ Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (2010-07-08). "62nd Primetime Emmy Awards Complete Nomination List". 
  15. ^ Kelly, Cathal. "Old Spice Guy gets Sesame Spoofed". Toronto Star. Retrieved 13 October 2010. 
  16. ^ "Sesame Street: Smell Like A Monster". YouTube. Retrieved 13 October 2010. 

External links

Preceded by
Cannes Lions Film Grand Prix Winner
Succeeded by
Write the Future

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