3 marketing takeaways from Cyberpunk 2077 and Old Spice hookup

3 marketing takeaways from Cyberpunk 2077 and Old Spice hookup

For those not spending the pandemic in front of a gaming console, Cyberpunk 2077 is the most anticipated and hyped game of the year, finally launching today at 1 in the morning after months of delays. 

A photo of a man holding a gun

Poland’s CD Projekt Red is the proud production studio, having already successfully launched the 2015 title “Witcher 3: Wild Hunt”, cited as one of the best video games ever and garnering numerous game-of-the-year awards. It’s been Projekt Red’s best selling game for years, so much that its extension “Blood and Wine” also got best RPG in The Game Awards 2016, the first time in history a game extension won.

These budding gaming releases have brought financial success to the company, calculated at 40 million games sold by December 2019 and an estimated $215.7 million revenue since 2015, $96.2 million of that in profits. And Witcher 3 sales in the first 3 years were 15 times bigger than Witcher 2!!

So when Cyberpunk 2007 was announced several years ago, expectations were high, following Witcher 3’s huge following. And with the 2020 gaming landscape boosted due to the health crisis, and the extra marketing nudge led by its producer, hopes are huge.

One Twitter user (2077Netrunner) posted a photo of a pack of Old Spice cosmetics as found in one of the shops in Ukraine, branded “Cyberpunk 2077”. The set consists of a shower gel and two deodorants.

The photo of Old Spice cosmetics set

Source: Rozetka

This inspired a discussion at Magnetic Point’s office about weird Old Spice ads seen through the years, especially the one with the guy sitting backwards on a horse, as played by the most memorable Isaiah Mustafa.

A man riding a horse and holding a can of Coca Cola

Source: YouTube

Most of us know Old Spice as a very popular brand 20/40/60 years ago as used by our fathers and grandfathers, hearkening back to sailors from a long gone era. At least that’s how we remembered it.

When we heard about an Old Spice product labeled “Cyberpunk 2077”, we first thought “that’s a crazy match-up”, both because young people don't use Old Spice, and its culture is completely foreign and old-fashioned to them. We, 40-years old chaps, didn’t think the brand relevant anymore, thought it rather “past its shelf-life”.

And then we took a step back - “Maybe it’s only our personal point of view, intuition can be wrong... Could be CD Projekt Red knows better, must have done their research…”

By coincidence, the very next day my 13-year old son asked me to buy him Old Spice because all his pals use it. And a few days later a friend around 40 from Munich mentioned he was excited about the Cyberpunk 2077 game and couldn't wait for it to come out. And BTW he uses Old Spice and thinks it a great cross-brand fit.

Prior to their 2010 Super Bowl commercial, Old Spice since the 30’s had been known as deodorant and body wash products, steadily attracting older and older men, mainly due to its marketing images of rugged sailors on the types of ships that no longer exist. After purchase by Procter and Gamble and wanting to revive market share, Old Spice expanded its line and experimented with new scents.

P&G launched a marketing campaign in 2010 directed towards a younger generation and the response was tremendous. One particularly successful spot showed an attractive man - “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” - sharing his secret with a female audience, that their man could smell like him if they just used Old Spice, and not the unmanly lady scents lying around.

Within 30 days of the campaign’s launch, Old Spice saw over 40 million views on YouTube, and a 107% increase in body wash sales.

So Old Spice is no longer your “Grandpa’s cologne” - they’re "cool" again. And it’s broken out of its traditional elderly target group to add on “Men aged 35-55”, then 18-35, and by default the women who buy for them - even picky and fashion-conscious teens see the product line as trendy and compelling to use.

In 2020 the 82-year-old Procter & Gamble brand launched another campaign to further expand their target group with younger generations, augmenting the now famous Isaiah Mustafa - the original “Man Your Man Could Smell Like”, now a very fit but aging 46-year-old, with his "son" (as played by Keith Powers) to keep up the cross-generational appeal.

A photo of a father and a son with deodorants

Source: Old Spice

And should it be any surprise the preconceived ideas and bias we had during our office discussion about Old Spice and Cyberpunk 2077?

Every day we go on Facebook or Instagram to read content that matches our preferences, full of our “mini me’s”. We don't go to social media to change others’ minds. We want to find out what’s going on out in the world - as told by a lot of people very similar to ourselves.

There’s a term coined by Eli Pariser (a writer and an activist) called “filter bubble”, where internet users increasingly separate from information that disagrees with their viewpoints, effectively isolating them in their own cultural or ideological bubbles.

To help me escape from my trap, at least as far as Old Spice goes, I started reading up on their campaigns, using Reddit to find a spectrum of comments:

I doubt there’s much crossover between the demographic that buys old spice and would play cyberpunk. Old spice is a crusty old dudes smell."

"I'm from Europe and old spice is probably my favourite deodorant, not that I go through bottles of the stuff on a monthly basis.."

"...primary demographic and consumers of deodorant products for men and specifically old spice are women, specifically girlfriends and wives of men (...) There was a huge case study on this, it's pretty well known to anyone who has studied marketing."

It inspired me to write down 3 marketing lessons I learned from this experience.


The fact that you’re not the target audience, the potential customer, doesn't mean that your colleagues, friends, and (gasp) your kids aren’t. And especially younger generations (Y & Z) are keen to buy products that shock parents/older generations, as well as appropriate retro trends in ways we might find jarring. That is why, you, as a marketer, need to always put aside your preferences and prejudices and even environment, to take a big-picture view. 

The same happens in the world of gaming. Statistics might surprise, as most players in some areas of online games are women! When we think about gaming, we automatically bring the picture of hard core players binging nights and days playing Call of Duty or World of Warcraft. But that’s just part of the story.

A photo of a boy pointing at us

And Old Spice is just one of many examples of this “new generation shift” they did in 2010 and now 2020 - repositioning a brand periodically to account for both the aging and up-and-coming populations. Once you get a stable position in your target group, you grow revenue by shifting to other buyers with different demographic and behavioural patterns. But these are traditionally “adjacent” groups - a bit older, similar education, shared experiences… The “new normal” calls for fewer preconditions - the next successful niche might be a larger jump in any given direction - given the right amount of testing and research.

Gilette did something of the sort in 1915 when they introduced the first women's razor, just 14 years after they patented their first disposable razor blades sold to men. They invented this new non-intuitive market for feminine care products, creating new habits among consumers.

So keep in touch with the rapid changes of the market landscape, and be prepared to help it skip a bit.

A photo of a woman buying in the shop

According to The New Your Times: "When Old Spice, the 72-year-old Procter & Gamble brand, was planning a new advertising campaign for shower gel earlier this year, it faced a challenge: its research suggested women purchase as much as 70 percent of the shower gel for men in their households, but using body wash struck some men as unmanly."

As mentioned above, it’s not “just” about the products’ users but also the people purchasing them (and sometimes smelling them) - for Christmas, birthdays or just about any occasion.

That’s why, as a marketer, I keep an eye on various verticals, constantly updating my knowledge, even some of what we think of as “useless information”. Despite all that, I still get caught in the trap of thinking too much from my own perspective or not being equipped with up-to-date marketing data.

While gaming doesn't match Old Spice's new youth demo completely, there's enough overlap with gaming's 18-34 base to explore synergies. In the particular case, it seems they found them.

I suppose many of you knew already that Old Spice is no longer just for grandfathers. But those who also knew it went with Cyberpunk was smaller. And gaming. And boys. And girls. Niche marketing just got much more complicated. Smell the possibilities!