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Attack of the Clones: Why Edge Shave Gel Is Right to Copy Old Spice's Ads

Energizer (ENR) is running a campaign for its Edge Shave Gel brand that is almost exactly like Procter & Gamble (PG)'s beloved Old Spice advertising, and taking flak for it on Twitter: Virtually the only tweets about Edge are complaints about Edge copying Old Spice.

It's lazy... but I'll bet it works, and that Edge's brand managers will have no problem trading their creative dignity for increased sales. Copying works, and there are good reasons for that.

Here's the spot:

Last year, after Old Spice's campaign had been on the air for months, Energizer reported a small increase in sales of Edge. In Q1 2011, Energizer's wet shave/blades segment saw a 41 percent increase in sales to $383.8 million. Most of that was attributed to the launch of a Schick Hydro product. Edge wasn't mentioned in Energizer's 10-Q -- usually a sign that it's either not significant or not doing well.

But check out the advertising that Edge had been running prior to that period. In 2010, Edge had an "anti-irritation" campaign featuring little-known comedian John Caparulo riffing on the indignity of playing basketball with girls. Didn't see it? Neither did anyone else. Before that, Edge's campaign was firmly based on the lowest common denominator:

Pitiful. But the new plagiarized ads are probably doing the job for Edge.

One of the counterintutive aspects of the advertising business is that a successful campaign can also lift sales of rival brands. If Old Spice's spots drove more men to the shaving section of the local drugstore, some of those extra men will have plumped for Edge.

Energizer knows Edge is an also-ran in the category, but even also-rans need to pick their races. Energizer seems to have chosen to run its horse in the personal care equivalent of the Kentucky Derby, as opposed to the 4.30 p.m. at the Aqueduct in Queens. The "proof" that Edge's copycat strategy is the right one can be found in P&G's own playbook: It moved away from Old Spice guy late last year only to bring him back in January. Even P&G was forced to copy P&G.

The campaign also comes just at the right time for Edge, because Old Spice brand manager James Moorehead has just moved to P&G's Gillette unit. Often there is a pause or a misstep in campaigns when a new brand manager comes in and tries to put their personal stamp on the brand, often by disrupting the ad
agency relationship. If Old Spice does take a breather during the management shuffle, Edge will find itself in the comfortable position of being the only shaving brand running new Old Spice-type advertising.

As for Dairy Queen, which has also copied the Old Spice campaign -- well, there's just no excuse.


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