Sunday, October 24, 2010

Superior Positioning

Over the past few weeks I have been working on a brand positionig exercise for a client. The brand is one that sees itself as 'superior' to the competitive space in which it occupies. And while perusing Facebook in a moment of procrastination I came across this on a previous colleague's wall.

This photo was reportedly a billboard seen at Yonge & Sheppard, across the office from the Canadian HQ of Procter & Gamble... makers of Old Spice. (Thank you to David Pullara for bringing this to my attention).

My question to you is this. Is this an example of superior positioning, or jealousy? Is this a rentention tactic or an aquisition strategy? I have my thoughts, but before I get to that let's take a journey back through 2010... and them to the early 90s (if we can dare make it that far).

Old Spice struck gold in 2010. A dusty old brand that has been reinvigorated. Hilarious commercials, layered with an extensive social media campaign has resulted in significant market share for this brand. I have heard upwards of 6-8% growth. Those are not light numbers people. That's impressive.

I have been watching the Old Spice evolutino for a while (check out this previous post from 2008)The advertising is cheeky, seductive humour attracts the primary household purchasers... women...And if women buy the product, love it, and ideally sleep with their men more often because they now 'smell like a man', men too will learn to love the new Old Spice.

The hallmark Old Spice ad of this most current campaign is this one:

The last line "I am on a horse" has become part of everyday lingo this year. I love when brand language makes it manstream. (Remember Wazzzzup?). Sure a nice Cannes Lion always helps, but a forever nod to authenticity on the streets is bankable.

For the record, while I find Axe's billboard f'n hilarious. It is feeling sorry for itelf. I might not have direct ROI, but what it does say is 'watch it P&G, we don't like what you did to our share... game on suits!'. More than anything I would love to see what Axe comes up with next, but I have no appetite for them to do it on the backs of Old Spice's horse. Fight back for your share, but make it clean fun (pun intended).

Now, way back in the days before Nirvana and Soundgarden, perhaps even in the U2 loving 80s there was another kind of turf war. The Japanese motorcycles were establishing themselves in the US market. Honda had come out with their 'Follow the Leader' campaign. It was essentially billboard with a bike and this headline along long stretches of desert highway. As the story goes, someone from Yamaha's ad agency was a press-check for another client when they say the Honda billboards coming off the presses. Within days the Yamaha team had identified where all the Honda billboards where posted and then paid premium for the board right after the Honda board that read 'Follow no one'.

For some reason the Honda/Yamaha story for me is competitive and superiority claiming poetry. For some reason the Axe/Old Spice one for me feels like petty childhood antics. Are they the same and I am blind to it, or is there in fact a strength of strategy in one that that other lacks?

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