I’ll be honest. When I saw the first Old Spice Guy commercial on YouTube I was in awe. As the campaign developed over that year, I was completely jealous. Not only was the writing brilliant, the concepts and executions were flawless, and it was just plain funny — but my jealousy reached an all-time high when I realized they completely changed the game of advertising as we knew it.
Any creative who’s ever flipped through the annuals, browsed the Cannes Lion winners, or opened a magazine to find a great ad, has said, “I wish I did that!” I’ve said it hundreds of times throughout my career, but this one was different somehow. It felt bigger than a really great line, a great execution or a cool guerilla marketing idea. It felt like everything I did from that point on was going to have to be a little bigger and a little better than I thought it should be. The way it used and abused the new forms of media were amazing. It created a benchmark for how new media is used, and used well.
Now, even though they’ve taken this campaign to the next level with the introduction of Fabio as the New Old Spice Guy and new executions that are thoroughly entertaining, this campaign has quickly been replaced on my list of “Are you kidding me!?” creative. K-Swiss has officially changed the game. It’s been taken to a level I never thought possible.
When K-Swiss started using the highly controversial and fictional Kenny Powers from HBO’s Eastbound & Down, I thought it was a pretty funny idea. When I saw this video after recently announcing that he had “purchased” K-Swiss and is now the CEO, I was in total shock: Warning - NSFW. Between the language, content and humor in this video, there’s also a highly entertaining Twitter account that is nowhere near anything that I’d imagine a sane client approving for representation of their company. But it’s there. It’s loud. And it’s making everything I do feel pretty tame in comparison. Even the TV spots, which aren’t quite as brash, are pushing the limits as you wait for an F-bomb to be dropped on network TV.
Every writer or art director has a list of things they’d like to somehow sneak into a TV spot or radio script. From monkeys to thinly veiled sexual innuendoes, we all secretly wish to pull one over on the client so that at some point there’s that image spliced into the middle of the spot that could potentially get you pulled into the boss’ office. With the right client, some people are able to check a few of them off the list, but most of us never get that chance. Maybe it’s because we’re too scared to take it or recommend it to our more reserved clients. This campaign pretty much hits everything on that list.
The guys at 72andSunny had either given up on their careers and gave it one last shot, or they are the bravest group of people I’ve ever heard of. This campaign completely changes how brands can position themselves, talk about themselves, how people view them, and, more importantly, how creatives will forever covet working for them. I will always have a ton of respect for the guys who did the Old Spice campaign, because they were truly game changers. But right now, I have to say the new K-Swiss campaign will completely inspire me to find a foul-mouthed, fictional character to represent a formerly quiet, nice brand. Once I pick my jaw up off the floor, I’ll be busy trying to think of something that takes this to the next plateau. Or I’ll just watch the video again.