Isaiah Mustafa and Social Media Prove No Match for Free Goods

As Flood of Body Wash Slows, so Do Old Spice Sales

By Jack Neff
Published: August 26, 2010

BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) — Muscular as Isaiah Mustafa and his viral videos may be, they seem no match for the power of free goods.
Isaiah Mustafa
Isaiah Mustafa
The latest four-week scanner data from SymphonyIRI show Old Spice body wash sales of $5.2 million for the four weeks ended Aug. 8. That’s up 30% vs. a year ago but down 30%-33% from the prior two periods.

The latest period is when the Procter & Gamble Co. brand blew through all prior records for viral video viewership thanks to a series of customized videos by Mr. Mustafa and Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., created for the likes of Perez Hilton, Alyssa Milano and Guy Kawasaki.

But the prior eight weeks got more impact from two sets of buy-one, get-one-free coupons for Old Spice. The last such coupon expired July 31, leaving Mr. Mustafa and his social-media buds to do the heavy lifting themselves the final eight days ended Aug. 8, apparently resulting in the slowdown.

Not to worry, P&G has Mr. Mustafa’s back again this Sunday. The company will drop another BOGO coupon for Old Spice body wash on Aug. 29 — its fourth such deal in six months, not counting several more involving free Old Spice or Secret deodorant in combination with body wash.

Like Mr. Mustafa’s videos, Old Spice’s deals have attracted an avid internet following. A Google search shows more than 274,000 entries describing Old Spice “moneymakers” — where shoppers combined P&G coupons with CVS or Target promotions to get bottles of body wash entirely free, plus credits for additional free merchandise.

Yes, the internet’s favorite pitchman has been selling soap below even the internet’s favorite price, as P&G combined with retailers to pay people to haul the stuff away. One popular deal at CVS, for example, had people spend $4 on two bottles of Old Spice or Gillette body wash, then get $8 back in Extra Bucks redeemable for other store merchandise — a net gain of $4.

All of which raises the question of how much product is sitting around in people’s bathroom cabinets now, particularly since P&G’s Gillette has also been generous with free body wash. And, strong as he may be, how will Mr. Mustafa handle those sales comparisons next year?

With less coupon support, Old Spice loses steam

4 weeks ended June 13 4 weeks ended July 11 4 weeks ended Aug. 8
Sales $7.7 million $7.2 million $5.2 million
Vs. prior year +107% +100% +30%
Vs. prior period N/A -7% -30%
Market Share 11.0% 10.3% 7.8%
Percent of period covered by buy-one get-one-free coupon 100% 89% 71%
Percent of period covered by custom Mustafa videos 0% 0% 93%
Source: SymphonyIRI, Advertising Age research

Dates of Old Spice buy-one, get-one coupons

Distribution Expiration
Feb. 7* March 31
March 7 April 30
April 18 June 30
July 4 July 31
Aug. 29 Sept. 30
*P&G had coupons on Feb. 7 for $4 off two Pro Strength body washes (average retail price just under $4) or free Old Spice body wash with purchase of Venus product. Other coupon dates are for buy one Old Spice body wash, get another free.

Since Super Bowl Sunday, the only periods without some coverage by an Old Spice body wash buy-one, get-one-free coupon were July 1-3 and Aug. 1-28.

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