How Old Spice Created ‘Muscle Music’

Isaiah Mustafa as the Old Spice guy, aka “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like,” is a tough act to follow. But Wieden+ Kennedy Portland found a new chiseled, shirtless guy and a new concept that brings an innovative digital edge to the same quirky, entertaining Old Spice image that the agency’s work has established for the brand.

Last week, W+K released on Vimeo the bizzaro but cool Old Spice “Muscle Music” video. It features former NFL player and actor Terry Crews shirtless in a strange cabinet of curiosity-type of music room, where he creates “muscle music.” At the end, in an interactive twist, users can create their own muscle music with each keyboard stroke.

The bar was set high for W+K’s Old Spice work after the success it saw with its Old Spice digital response campaign in 2010. While the agency creative team absolutely wanted to meet the same level of success with this campaign for Old Spice, it didn’t want to do anything even remotely like it.

“The thing that really made this project unique was the universal embedded interactivity,” said Matt O’Rourke, creative interactive director at W+K. “No matter where you post your creation, when it’s over, whoever is watching it can make their own, directly from yours. It’s universal. It lives everywhere. You don’t have to go find the mixer to make your own. That was no small feat, but it made the thing completely ubiquitous.”

W+K teamed with production company MJZ and their director Tom Kuntz, visual effects company The Mill LA, and musician/composer Daedelus for sound design to make the video. Vimeo worked on executing the concept.

“They came with a clear idea of what they wanted, but they were open enough to figure out a way to make it work in a way that would mesh with our audience to make it a successful campaign,” said Deborah Szajngarten, communications director at Vimeo.

Since it was posted two weeks ago, the video has been viewed 6 million times, according the Vimeo’s stats.

“We don’t want to succeed by doing things we’ve already done. There’s no creative satisfaction in that,” said O’Rourke. “We want everything we make to succeed on its own merit. In fact, when we have concepts that are even remotely similar to the response campaign, we tend to kill them off very quickly.”

Surprisingly, the creative team didn’t even put all that much research into developing the complex universal keyboard-based mixer that makes this campaign distinctive. According to O’Rourke, it came about mostly through trial and error.

“We all sat in a room and pretended like we knew what we were doing,” joked O’Rourke.

If you haven’t tried it out for yourself yet, go tinker around with it. It really is neat to see how your own keyboard becomes a mixer with the different sounds and some shouts and slogans from Terry Crews. Apparently, if you play around enough with your keyboard, you can find some hidden loops and bonus sounds.