Old Spice Vs. Dove: Analysis Of The Body Wash Wars

Whether purely by accident or a carefully executed, well-timed mashing of the ram horns, Old Spice has come up against Dove in the competition to dominate body wash for men.

The Dove Body Wash for Men commercial was one of the most popular of the Super Bowl XLIV ads.  But not long after, Old Spice introduced its own body wash for men and the commercial was so powerful, it went viral.

Lest you think body wash sales are miniscule, consider this:  body wash is a $757 million market, and in 2009 surpassed bar soap sales.

Is there room for numerous competitors?  Certainly, and we need to watch how each company lays out its strategy and continued messaging.  But out of the gate – comparing Dove to Old Spice – I see a definite leader.

You know how much I love Dove.  But this time around, my hat is tipped to Old Spice.

Watch each ad, then I’ll tell you why.











The Dove ad is creative and gets your attention.  It uses a softer communication style, which would be fine if the ad was aimed at women.  Instead it speaks directly to men, (especially at the end).  It’s telling men that they deserve their own body wash, and that it’s time to “be comfortable in your own skin.”  A feminine approach – one that will definitely work for some consumers (male and female).  But it’s not talking to (or hitting the emotional buttons of) the major body wash consumer:  women.



The Old Spice ad is not only creative (with a script that many people have memorized), it does something fascinating – it uses male communication style to speak directly to women. Short sentences.  Copy that says, “Ladies, your man may not look like me, but he can smell like me.  And that’s the next best thing.”  And, as my partner Roy H. Williams says, the copy is written in the imperative voice, commanding viewers to buy Old Spice body wash.  It speaks directly to heart and mind of the body wash consumer (not to mention the guy is pretty easy on the eyes, as well), especially the Sorceress.



It’s another example of how male communication style can be used effectively to grab market share with female consumers.  And when women buy, men are sure to follow.  Old Spice has been around forever (remember this ad?) – bravo for bringing an old-fashioned brand back to life.


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6 Responses to “Old Spice Vs. Dove: Analysis Of The Body Wash Wars”

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  1. Uh . . . you would be right!

  2. I agree with your analysis, Michele, but it seems to me that Dove is trying to create a NEW market with this ad. They’ve got women buying their products, so how about trying to expand their reach by telling men it’s okay to buy smell-good stuff. Dove’s message also appeals to me; it’s not the “women think all men are idiots” tone of the last couple of decades. It’s more like a feminine voice (the Dove brand) saying, “Hey, we know it’s not that easy being a MAN, either. There are a lot of expectations imposed on you. It’s okay to pamper yourself.”

    That said, will the Dove ad make me buy body wash for myself? Probably not. But I might ask my wife to pick up some next time she’s at the store. :)

  3. Elizabeth says:

    The Dove ad while different was confusing rather than encouraging men to buy or even women. I don’t know any men who would by body wash over an ad like that and few women.

    The Old Spice ad was direct and spoke to women and men. Men want women to think their hot and women want their men to at least smell hot if not look as hot as the actor in the ad.

    Dove lost hands down. Their Ad was more like a PSA to be a good man, husband and father. And then end with the tacked on seemly separate ad to buy new body care products. It didn’t gel. :-D

  4. As a man, I must say the Old Spice ad was far more appealing to me. It actually made me start using the body wash my wife had already bought me:-)

    As a marketer, the same thing. Old Spice was different, interesting, and didn’t get stale quickly. (In fact, I stole the imperative voice for a radio ad for my store). The Dove ads are already on the irritation list for me.

  5. Karen says:

    The old spice ad is clearer and definately imperative.

    The dove ad is fun and sad at the same time, I mean, sad for men, hehe.

  6. Carla Bobka says:

    The imperative voice is really an interesting observation. Imperative in tone more so than in language used. Compare that to a car ad – imperative in language, assaulting in tone. No wonder women are turned off by car dealers.

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