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Old Spice History : World War II

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Old Spice Historical AdvertisementWhen you step into Pearl Harbor Warbirds headquarters on a Pearl Harbor tour you’ll instantly notice one thing: the distinct aroma of Old Spice filling the air.

Why Old Spice? What’s the history of Old Spice dating back to World War II times?

Well, the Old Spice guy before there was an Old Spice guy was William Lightfoot Schultz. Back in the the 1930’s, Schultz was inspired by the scent of his mother’s rose jar and began experimenting in the development of his own fragrances.

The first fragrance he launched was for ladies and that one never really took off. The second fragrance was for men, simply titled “Old Spice,” and it launched a year before the war in 1938.

At the start of World War II Schultz converted his factory into a military production facility. This is when Old Spice took off.

Wherever U.S. soldiers went, Old Spice followed. Schultz’s signature Old Spice scent went all over the globe and became synonymous with United States soldiers. That’s why when you step back in time on a Pearl Harbor Warbirds tour, you’ll smell the strong scent of Old Spice.

A post about Old Spice history wouldn’t be complete without rounding out the full details of the brand. After World War II concluded, Schultz relocated it’s manufacturing factory to New Jersey before passing away in 1950. His son George Schultz took over the company and served as the President for 20 years before selling the company to American Cyanamid in 1970.

American Cyanamid held on to the company for another 20 years before selling the brand to Procter and Gamble in 1990. At the time of the acquisition, Old Spice was on the decline. It had been 50 years since the fragrance was introduced, and the consumer market of the 90’s typically associated Old Spice with the way their grandfather smelt. Which, by all means, was an accurate description given that most soldiers continued to wear Old Spice after the war.

Procter and Gamble rebranded Old Spice, donated product to 5th graders who didn’t need the product yet, and began to reshape the way Old Spice was perceived. 20 years later in 2010, Old Spice launched the video ads with “the Old Spice Guy” and the brand continues on.

Still, nothing beats the original scent of Old Spice from back in the early 1940’s, when the brand was just starting, and American soldiers adopted the fragrance as one of their own.