Old Spice - The History

The History of Old Spice

The history of Old Spice began in 1934 with a man named William Lightfoot Schultz. Schultz, a soap and toiletries maker, decided to form his own company, which he named Shulton. Inspired by the scent of his mother’s rose jar, Schultz began developing fragrances. In 1937, Schultz released his first line of fragrance, a women’s perfume which he called “Early American Old Spice”. By 1938, Schultz released a second fragrance, this time for men, simply titled “Old Spice”. This was the true birth of Old Spice as we know it today (Biebel).

Throughout the course of World War II, Schultz contributed to the war effort by converting his factory into a military production facility. This was a big time for The Shulton Company. Old Spice aftershave became wildly popular over the course of the war and quickly became synonymous with United States soldiers. Wherever the soldiers were sent, Old Spice followed. Because of this, Old Spice’s signature scent was soon recognized and loved around the globe. After the conclusion of WWII, Shulton relocated its manufacturing factory to Clifton, New Jersey (Biebel).

In 1950, William Lightfoot Schultz passed away, leaving his son George Schultz with full control of the Shulton Company and the future of the Old Spice brand. After 20 years of serving as president of the Shulton Company, George made the decision to sell the company to a chemical manufacturer named American Cyanamid in 1970. American Cyanamid kept the Shulton name as head of their consumer products division, and the popular Old Spice brand lived on. During this time, the Old Spice product line began expanding as well, as they began offering new Old Spice scents (Basenotes).

American Cyanamid’s control of the Old Spice brand ended in 1990 when they chose to sell Old Spice to Procter and Gamble, a giant consumer care product producer that owns well-known brands such as Bounty, Pantene, Tide, Duracell, among many others. When Procter and Gamble acquired Old Spice, its sales and popularity were both showing signs of decline. By the early 1990s, Old Spice’s ability to survive and endure over the course of several decades became its downfall. Old Spice had become an icon associated with old men. The younger generation of boys and men mostly recognized Old Spice as something their fathers and grandfathers wore, which resulted in a lack of interest for the product. Procter and Gamble knew they would have to reinvent Old Spice to make it more alluring to adolescents and young men if they had any chance of protecting their $300 million dollar investment (Berner).

Since P&G’s acquisition of Old Spice in 1990, they have conquered their challenge of rebranding Old Spice. In the early 1990s, P&G decided to start donating small packages of Old Spice deodorant to schools all around the country with instructions to provide the product to 5th grade boys in health class. This was a brilliant step towards reshaping the Old Spice brand. By giving deodorant away to youngsters barely old enough to need it, they were making a great first impression on people that are going to need such a product for the rest of their lives, potentially gaining an enormous amount of new customers (Berner).

Fast forward to 2010. With the idea to once again expand their product line, P&G and Old Spice created a new liquid body wash product for men. And with the help of Wieden + Kennedy, a famously successful advertisement agency, they were not only able to create strong interest for this new product, but literally change the way people viewed Old Spice overnight. With the launch of their new advertisement campaign, “Smell like a man, man”, starring Isaiah Mustafa, Old Spice had to internet absolutely buzzing (Newman). Since then, it has been one hilarious and successful advertisement campaign after another, and people have already begun to forget that their grandfathers were rocking Old Spice 70 years ago.

Year Events
1934 William Lightfoot Schultz creates the Shulton Company in New York and specializes in soap, toiletries, and perfumery.
1937 The Shulton company releases their first scent, a woman’s perfume called “Classic American Old Spice”.
1938 The Shulton company releases a men’s aftershave product, simply named “Old Spice”. This was the official birth of Old Spice as we now know it.
1941 The start of World War II. Old Spice aftershave travelled everywhere with United States troops, rapidly spreading its scent across the globe while keeping soldiers smelling fresh and clean.
1942-1945 To aid the efforts of WWII, Schultz's factory was converted into a military manufacturing plant and made metal dyes for allied ammunitions.
1946 The Shulton factory was relocated from New York to Clifton, New Jersey. This site eventually manufactured other products for Pierre Cardin, Jacqueline Cochran, and Nina Ricci.
1950 William Lightfoot Schultz passes away leaving his son George Schultz in control of the Shulton Company and the future of Old Spice.
1970 George Schultz sells the Shulton Company to American Cyanamid. American Cyanamid, primarily a chemical manufacturer, keeps the Shulton name as their consumer care division.
1990 American Cyanamid sells off the Old Spice brand to Procter and Gamble for $300 million.
2006 Procter and Gamble hire Wieden + Kennedy to help re-brand Old Spice.
2010 Wieden + Kennedy launch a revolutionary campaign for Old Spice which goes viral overnight. To capitalize on the attention Old Spice was getting, they continued the campaign with interactive YouTube videos.
2010-Present Old Spice and Wieden + Kennedy continue one viral campaign after another, marketing Old Spice to a younger generation and continuing to increase sales.
The Timeline of Old Spice. (Figure 1)