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"Anything is possible when your man smells like Old Spice and not a lady. I'm on a horse."
Isaiah Mustafa, the Old Spice Man

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The Man Your Man Could Smell Like is a 2010 ad campaign for Old Spice-brand male hygiene products starring ex-NFL player Isaiah Mustafa. It started with a single commercial in which Mustafa (a.k.a. Old Spice Man) describes everything that would be possible if the target audience's man stopped using lady-scented bodywash, and the video quickly went viral.

The success of the first commercial paved the way for a second, which proved to be just as popular. Two weeks later, Wieden Kennedy boldly went where no advertising agency had gone before and filmed dozens of short, improvised scenes of Mustafa giving personal responses to everyone (from Ellen DeGeneres to Anonymous) who had commented on the new Old Spice ads via social network. Almost 200 video responses in total were uploaded to YouTube between July 12 and 14, 2010, all of which can be viewed on Old Spice's YouTube channel. For Superbowl 2011, Mustafa starred in another one. And another one. And another one.

A challenge was issued and accepted in July of 2011, when a long-haired European named Fabio (yes, that Fabio) declared himself the new Old Spice Man. Mustafa and Fabio responded to questions on Facebook and YouTube in shorts similar to the video response campaign the year before, with viewers invited to vote for who should be the real Old Spice Man. Mustafa won, but immediately announced that he would be taking a vacation. In the interim, the Old Spice Man role was filled by various NFL players, and more notably, by the addition of Terry Crews as a much louder, nuttier, more explosive, and most importantly, more POWERFUL Old Spice Man.

For the 2011 holiday season, the classic Old Spice Man returned with a promise to give gifts to all of Earth's 7 billion inhabitants. He returned again in August 2015 to advertise the Timber and Swagger product lines... and wound up paired with Terry Crews's POWERFUL Old Spice Man advertising the Bearglove line- and in each ad they fought over which one people should use.

In the commercials, Mustafa recites his monologue in Dramatic Deadpan during a single long take with lots of props and minimal CGI. While arbitrary costume changes and changes of scenery are the hallmarks of the televised commercials, the YouTube video responses were all simply Mustafa standing in a bathroom shirtless and in a white towel with several recycled props.

Old Spice's YouTube channel is both the #1 most subscribed and the #1 most viewed sponsor channel of all time, and the video responses gleaned a higher viewership in their first 24 hours than Barack Obama's victory speech. Sales of Old Spice Red Zone After Hours bodywash (the specific product the commercials advertise) have dropped 7% since it debuted; however, Old Spice product sales in general have shot up more than 170% since the debut of The Man Your Man Could Smell Like. The style of the commercial has also become the brand's identity, with many commercials following in the same general style and their product labels also echoing it (here's one such example). Thus it's a highly unusual case of What Were They Selling Again? meeting Tropes Are Not Bad.

Mustafa returned on January 22, 2020, with a new series of commercials, "Smell Like Your Own Man, Man", introducing his character's son, who is more to-the-point than him.

The popularity and acclaim of the commercials have even garnered Isaiah Mustafa an award for them and enabled him to break into acting in a number of roles ranging from cameos to supporting parts in film and television.

These tropes are now diamonds!

  • The Ace: Isaiah. You could smell like The Ace, provided you use Old Spice Body Wash and not something lady-scented.
  • Hammerspace: From which Mustafa can withdraw Old Spice bodywash, freshwater fish, expensive magnifying glasses, and everything in between.
    • Terry has this within his very own body, as the "Muscle Surprise" website demonstrates. He has multiple tiny versions of himself- and his tiger buddy- inside him.
  • He's Back!: After a three-year absence, and now he's battling Terry Crews.
  • High-Class Glass: Monocle smile!
  • The High Queen: Ellen DeGeneres (a.k.a. Grand Princess Queen of All Who Are Pleasant, Syndicated, and Prone to Spontaneous Dance Movements) was crowned by the king of Ellenopia, below.
  • Incoming Ham: During the first commercial in the Isaiah vs Terry campaign just when it looks like Old Spice is back to using Isaiah as their front man midway though the commercial Terry pulls this off as his trademark yell is faintly heard and rapidly increases before bursting out of the lake Isaiah is boating on.
    Isaiah: It's you!
    Terry: IT'S MEEE!!! GOOD-BYE!!!
  • In the Style of: The Critical Miss webcomic featured a parody as conducted by Garrus Vakarian from Mass Effect.
  • I Was Told There Would Be Cake: Ladies, buy your man Old Spice bodywash and he will bake you cake.
  • Large Ham:
    • Mustafa, "THE MAN YOUR MAN COULD SMELL LIKE" is a true god of advertisement hamming.
    • Terry Crews, compared to Mustafa, is significantly weirder.
  • Made of Iron: There is apparently nothing that an Old Spice man can't survive. For instance, his preferred method of applying Old Spice bodywash is a live wolverine, though pufferfish and hand grenades work as well.
  • Metaphorgotten: The Perez Hilton response.
  • Mind Screw:
    • He jumps off a waterfall into a hot tub which explodes, revealing a motorbike.
    • He himself replies to himself.
    • Diving off a mountain peak into a sea of water, swimming down, and surfacing on a piano inside an apartment building.
  • Modesty Towel: Old Spice Man does community service in a towel.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Mustafa is a handsome man. So are all other Old Spice men, and you could be too if you used Old Spice bodywash (and didn't smell like a lady).
  • No Indoor Voice: Terry Crews. At least every other line is at THE TOP OF HIS LUUUUUNGS!
  • Noodle Incident: The Old Spice Man did something on the planet Neptune with his left bicep in the spring of 2007.
  • Oh, Crap!: Terry has one when he tries to hijack Isaiah's commercial, only to be owned by Isaiah's "I'm on a horse" Signature Line.
  • The Oner: From shower to boat to horseback in one continuous shot (with some computer trickery to insert a fountain of diamonds).
  • Panthera Awesome: Their milk has healing properties, according to the Old Spice Guy.
    • Terry has a talking tiger buddy of his who's shown up a few times.
  • Pec Flex: Terry often has his pecs dancing as he gives a long shout.
  • Perma-Stubble: Grown to keep you looking at Mustafa's face and not his abs.
  • Rasputinian Death: Well, more like Rasputinian Kidnapping. Needless to say, Old Spice Guy escapes.
  • Rated M for Manly: Mustafa is so manly that when he clears his throat, it sounds like a chainsaw being revved.
  • Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: Mustafa does this habitually in his YouTube responses, resulting in lines like "L O L exclamation exclamation exclamation exclamation" and "Disappointed mouth emoticon."
  • Reality Warper: It comes with being the Old Spice Guy, apparently.
  • Really 700 Years Old:
    • Old Spice Guy takes centuries to plan his vacations. He can explain the proper procedure in a 16th-century French arm-wrestling match, because he was there.
    • He had a dinosaur for a father figure, and to top it all off, he created Australia by separating it from Pangaea through sheer upper body strength.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: "Do you want a man who smells like he can bake you a gourmet cake in the dream kitchen he built for you with his own hands?" Of course you do.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Terry (hammy and over-the-top) and Isaiah (snarky and soft-spoken), respectively.
  • Renaissance Man: He can bake a gourmet cake in a kitchen he built himself, balance on logs, horse-ride, motorcycle, sail, and be sexy.
  • Requisite Royal Regalia: The king of Ellenopia wears a crown, and wields a sceptre and Old Spice bodywash.
  • Retraux: Each of "The Bar Soap You've Been Smelling For" and "Unnecessary Freshness" commercials has a similar 1980s-style jingle with different lyrics, such as:
    "Nope, I was wrong. This is a commercial for fruit."
  • The Rival: Gained one in New Old Spice Guy Fabio and then Terry Crews.
  • Rule of Cool: Aside from several of the things he has been said to perform, he brings dinosaurs back to life so he can bench-press them.
  • Running Gag: Freshwater fish and horses.
  • Sex for Product: Because women won't do it with men who use lady-scented bodywash.
  • Smart People Play Chess: In one commercial, Isaiah can be seen playing chess with a lion, to show off how cultured and intelligent he is, in contrast to Terry who's more (verbal) brawns than brain.
    Isaiah: [while Terry is trapped in a painting] Be quiet, painting! We're playing chess. Checkmate.
  • Smoke Out: Fabio tries it during the "duel". He throws down a (very ineffectual) smoke bomb and hides behind the couch. He tries it again, and hides behind the curtain. Fabio goes for it a third time, and guess who still isn't fooled?
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: He can speak shark, dog, wolf, and dragon.
  • Stupid Sexy Flanders: Admit it, you've had one of these moments to this guy.
  • Stylistic Suck: Fabio's videos are meant to portray him as an egotistical prat, speaking in an over-the-top, intentionally incomprehensible Italian accent, and are clearly being set up to give Isaiah Mustafa the victory. That isn't stopping people from genuinely not liking him.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Most of the "Old Spice" commercials that star Terry Crews end with something exploding.
  • Subverted Catchphrase:
    Terry: Hello ladies...IS WHAT A DUMMY WOULD SAY!
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
    • Parodied. During the duel, the real Old Spice Guy gets replaced by... well, this guy.
    • Also, this guy. Ironically, Fabio himself gets this guy to replace him and... the results aren't much better than he'd usually do.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial:
    • In regards to the Gillette Cross Promotion, such a promotion definitely didn't happen. Doing that would have been "In poor taste".
    • He did not tear off the wings of Pegasus and eat them buffalo-style to achieve the manliness he exhibits today.
    • This guy swears he's the real Old Spice Guy, and not another fake person Fabio is paying 'moneys' too.
  • Talking to Themself: One video response has the Old Spice Man responding to his real-life counterpart, Isaiah Mustafa.
  • Testosterone Poisoning: All the Old Spice Men are buff and manly figures but they're also so silly and/or absurd. Their purpose is to make the audience laugh.
    • Terry Crews can become a one man band by flexing his abs.
    • Mustafa is a charismatic shirtless scene that talks in breathless non-sequiturs and has random hobbies.
  • There Is No Kill like Overkill: In one of his "Interneterventions", Isiah crushes a gold plated bluetooth headset underfoot. Then hammers the pieces into into smaller pieces. Then batters the smaller pieces into even smaller pieces with a bowling ball. Then uses a comically small hammer to re-hammer the even smaller pieces. Then uses a rolling pin to crush the even smaller pieces into powder. Then sweeps up the pieces and finally chews and swallows them.
  • Third-Person Person: Fabio likes to talk about Fabio like this.
  • Title Drop: "Look down. Back up. Where are you? You're on a boat, with the man your man could smell like."
  • Wacky Marriage Proposal: Mustafa proposed to Angela A. Hutt-Chamberlin on behalf of @Jsbeals during the YouTube response campaign. She said yes, of course.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Standing, mostly but shirtless in every situation.
  • Wealthy Yacht Owner: He's on a boat. With Diamonds. And tickets to that thing you love.
  • What Were They Selling Again?: The company (and product line as a whole) has done very well. The specific bodywash being advertised did not. It's lampshaded with Fabio's commercials, where he stumbles through his lines and just says "Old Spice Product Wash".
  • White Stallion: Befitting for a man of his class, whenever The Man Your Man Could Smell Like is "on a horse," it's one of these.
  • You No Take Candle: Parodied hard with Fabio. Also the fake Old Spice Guy, who is clearly having his lines fed by Fabio.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: As demonstrated in this particular commercial for Odor Blocker Body Wash, it's "TOO POWERFUL TO LET THIS COMMERCIAL END!"


"Anything is possible when your trope is described like The Man Your Man Could Smell Like article, and not a member of the Permanent Red Link Club. I'm on an index."




Video Example(s):


Isaiah Mustafa vs. Terry Crews

Here are some Old Spice commercials featuring two Old Spice Men fighting to advertise different Old Spice products: Isaiah Mustafa for Timber/Swagger, and Terry Crews for Bearglove.

How well does it match the trope?

4.71 (17 votes)

Example of:

Main / HamToHamCombat

Media sources: