The Longhorn Behind ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’ [Watch]

If you’ve ever laughed out loud at one of the Old Spice commercials that begins with a silky-smooth “Hello, ladies,” you know what we’re talking about. “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” is one of the most successful — and funniest — ad campaigns of the decade. And one of the young wizards behind it is a UT grad.

Craig Allen, BS ’03, BA’03, Life Member, is an art director in Portland, Ore., at the powerhouse ad agency of Wieden+Kennedy.

Clearly a sharp title. But what does an art director do exactly? 

“We basically sit in a room in silence and try to come up with funny jokes,” he says. And he’s pretty serious.

In this case, Allen and his copywriting partner, Eric Kallman, made each other laugh last year with goofy “Hello, ladies” openers, so they created a character based on that smug style and wrote out the jokes.

They found former football player Isaiah Mustafa and his washboard abs through a casting call. Then they led the filming of the over-the-top original spots and the one-off video responses to Twitterers.

Within months, the two had won an Emmy and a prestigious Cannes Lion (which is practically a Nobel Peace Prize in the advertising world) for their firm. 

Ladies and gents alike responded, Mustafa got famous fast, and Old Spice went from grandpa’s scent to the secret of cheeky manly-men.

Along the way, the videos got “about 18 billion” more hits than their creators expected. “When we came up with it, we really liked the script, but what makes something so popular is a mystery” Allen says. “He had that special something, I guess.”

He and Kallman still work primarily on Old Spice, but topping their blockbuster is tough. At 30, the former class clown is a victim of his own runaway success. “It’s the hardest challenge I’ve faced,” Allen says. “We’ve backed ourselves up a mountain now. We’re trying to write the funniest stuff we can.”


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