As Adweek points out, the product as aphrodisiac has a long history in advertising, and especially when it comes to male grooming products aimed at younger men. Unlike Axe/Lynx, however, Old Spice has largely avoided the obvious gag of women being unable to resist the lure of scented man, and, if it has used it, it’s at least added in some absurdity. Its latest campaign does feature plenty of hot babes falling into a deep swoon over the lead male character, but, as per usual, there’s a slight difference. And, in the latest spot, the newest Old Spice mascot unwisely decides to go for a soak in the tub.
Recently, a chatbot called Eugene Goostman is thought to have passed the Turing test by convincing a few people it was a 13-year-old boy (RadioLab discussed the issue of talking to machines in a great podcast a few years back). And as artificial intelligence continues to develop, human-android interactions will become an increasingly common—and perhaps problematic—occurrence, something Old Spice and its agency Wieden + Kennedy reference in these ads.
As Slate wrote: “These ads are heteronormative and reductive, but they also offer some intriguing questions about human-android interaction. Can people be attracted to or fall in love with humanoid robots? Do things like smell make it easier for humans to accept androids? Maybe Old Spice holds the key to minimizing the uncanny valley (the aesthetic gray area in which humanoid robots are unsettling to some humans because their look or movements aren’t convincing enough).”