By ANDREW ADAM NEWMAN
Advertising for the Wild Collection, a new line from Old Spice, implies that its fragrances can enhance the primal and sophisticated appeal of its users.
A COMMERCIAL for the Wild Collection, a new line from Old Spice, opens on a formal party, where a square-jawed man in a tuxedo confidently descends a sweeping staircase as two snarling wolves cling to his shoulders with their forepaws.
“There was something about him, something that set him apart from the others,” says a female voice-over, the thoughts of a beautiful woman in a gown. “He was different somehow. I was afraid, then seduced, then intrigued, then” — she gets into a late-model red sports car parked inside the ballroom — “in the car.”
After he drives the car, his hand and a wolf paw both on the gearshift, through an oversized glass door and into a snowy night, she concludes. “I never had a chance.”
The spot closes with the text, “Introducing Wolfthorn,” one of three scents that evoke wildlife (along with Hawkridge and Foxcrest) in the line, and the tagline for the campaign: “Answer the smell of the wild.”
The commercial is by the office of Wieden & Kennedy in Portland, Ore., with Tom Kuntz directing and production by MJZ. In an unusual placement, it will be introduced Sunday during the third quarter of the Super Bowl exclusively in a local slot for a CBS affiliate in Juneau, Alaska. The reasoning, according to Old Spice, is that Alaska is believed to have the highest wolf population in the country.
The commercial will be introduced widely on national television on Monday as part of a campaign that also includes print and online advertising.
Old Spice, a Procter & Gamble brand, spent $46.2 million on advertising in 2011 and in the first nine months of 2012 spent $16.6 million, according to the Kantar Media unit of WPP.
Old Spice, introduced in 1937 with a colonial theme, still uses a clipper ship in its logo, and has plotted new courses in recent years. Over the last decade, it has dedicated progressively less marketing to its original scent, which may remind many of their grandfathers — an association that can turn creepy when the person wearing the cologne stirs romantic urges.
Instead, in humorous popular campaigns featuring actors like Isaiah Mustafa and Terry Crews, it has promoted numerous new, stronger scents meant to appeal to younger men, with brawny names like Swagger, After Hours and Showtime.
While those scents, which are available in products including body spray, shower gel and deodorant, have sold well, the brand acknowledged in 2010 that they were too intensely scented for some consumers and introduced a lighter line called the Fresh Collection, with scents including Fiji and Matterhorn.
Jason Partin, Old Spice brand manager for North America, said that the Wild Collection was also aimed at men who might have wrinkled their noses at the company’s other offerings.
The scents were developed to “bring in guys who think right now that everything in our lineup smells the same” and “who want scents to be more subtle,” he said.
At the same time, as the advertising campaign makes clear, the scents are not meant to project that their wearers are wallflowers, but rather, that they are men “who want to be viewed as manly, seductive and maybe a little intimidating,” Mr. Partin said.
Intimidation is at the heart of a commercial for another scent in the line, Hawk
ridge, which will also have its debut on national television on Monday. (Online, both commercials will be posted on Facebook and YouTube on Friday.)
In the spot, a poker player faces an opponent who has about a dozen hawks surrounding him, and the player is so flustered that he folds an unbeatable hand — a royal flush. The winner is a Hawkridge user.
Commercials for its rival Axe, a Unilever brand, tend to feature stunning women throwing themselves at average-looking Axe users. In the new Old Spice commercial, however, women gaze approvingly at the Hawkridge user, but the primary message is not that his scent attracts women, but that it vanquishes other men.
“With us and a lot of competing brands, girls are very important, naturally,” said Craig Allen, a Wieden & Kennedy creative director. “But ‘the guy gets the girl’ is kind of overdone.”
Jason Bagley, also a creative director at Wieden & Kennedy, added, “The other things that are important besides girls are money and winning.”
David Vinjamuri, author of “Accidental Branding: How Ordinary People Build Extraordinary Brands” and an adjunct professor of marketing at N.Y.U., said the poker-game commercial might be especially appealing to men who started using Old Spice as adolescents and were at risk of abandoning it for what they perceived as more sophisticated products.
“The central conflict for adolescent boys is girls, but six or seven years later, confidence is the issue,” he said. “You’re just out of college, you’re starting your first job, and it’s the most insecure moment of your adulthood, because you might have figured out girls at this point, but you haven’t figured out your life.”
While many Old Spice ads in recent years have stressed the grooming routine by featuring Mr. Mustafa wrapped in a towel or Mr. Crews in his underwear in various bathrooms, new ads show impeccably dressed men in well-appointed settings.
Old Spice is primarily geared to men ages 18 to 24, with the newest line aimed at the older end of that spectrum.
“The idea is that these primal scents bring out the wild, masculine side of men” while having “a little more sophisticated look and feel,” Mr. Bagley said.
These days, the box for the original Old Spice scent has a description (written by Wieden & Kennedy) that acknowledges its association with an older demographic, but still plays up its sex appeal.
“If your grandfather hadn’t worn it,” it says, “you wouldn’t exist.”
A version of this article appeared in print on February 1, 2013, on page B3 of the New York edition with the headline: A Man, Not a Scent, That Conquers A Room.