Old Spice and P&G: The Moms are More Similar Than You May Think

Old Spice vs. P&G
It’s been the battle of the moms in two of the latest TV spots gaining loads of attention recently. The first is for the king of men’s deodorant, Old Spice, and the other was for household product giant (and coincidentally the parent company of Old Spice) Proctor & Gamble. The two advertisements portray vastly different versions of mothers: one is warm and caring, and the other is, well, a little too caring. But despite their differences, I’m sure we can all see a little bit of each of these maternal figures in our own moms.

Old Spice’s commercial (see it below), dubbed “Momsong,” has officially blown up the internet. It went viral just after airing during the NFL games last week, and just like any other viral video, received some positive and some negative feedback. Some say that it’s the creepiest commercial they’ve ever seen, while others hail it as some of the most genius work Old Spice has put out. Although I think that it does have the weird (okay, very weird) factor, once you strip away all the stalking and singing and laundry basket towing, it’s a sweet message. Mothers will always be protective (and sometimes overprotective) of their sons, especially during the tender adolescent years. I think most moms who have raised teenage sons can attest to the fact that it’s tough letting them grow up, and at this ad’s core (if you dig really deep) it demonstrates that attachment between a mother and her son.

I think part of the reason why this ad is getting so much attention is because the mother/son bond is one that isn’t often mentioned. If instead this was a commercial with a father following his teenage daughter singing about how painful it is that she’s becoming a woman, I would bet that fewer people would see it as creepy and weird. But switch the family members and all of a sudden it’s new and strange and bizarre. Which, in a way, is smart of Wieden+Kennedy (Old Spice’s ad agency) because weird gets attention. I also think “Momsong” is smart in that it caters to different audiences. It will appeal to adolescent boys, because what high school-er doesn’t want to smell nice and go out with pretty girls and make his mother upset (if subconsciously)? And mothers will understand the desire to follow their boys everywhere and complain about their babies growing up.

On the other side of the spectrum, there’s the caring-but-not-stalking mother. I covered this commercial more in depth in an earlier post, but I think overall this mother is not too different from the Old Spice mother (stick with me here). Sure, after watching P&G’s spot you probably won’t be thinking WTF as you might with Old Spice, but both mothers have watched their children grow up and become adults right before their eyes, and were there for every step (and fall) of the way. It’s understandable that the P&G commercial was more touching and less weird, because it’s only catering to moms, not teenage boys. But the messages in the two ads are the same: mothers will always take care of their kids.

At first glance it appears that these two mothers are worlds apart, but in reality they’re somewhat similar. “Momsong” is about mothers who are struggling with the fact that their boys are becoming men, while “Pick Them Back Up” details the lifelong love a mother has for her child. And I think most of us can see a little bit of each of these maternal figures in each of our own mothers. She’s there for you, but sometimes she’s literally there for you.


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