Former football player Isaiah Mustafa has been lead spokesman for the Procter & Gamble Co. brand of men's body washes and deodorants for nearly two years, starring in a popular series of marketing campaigns relying heavily on YouTube, Twitter and other social media.
Now, he has held off a playful effort by the Italian model to become "the new Old Spice Guy."
In a series of videos culminating Thursday, the muscular pitchmen dueled in tongue-in-cheek challenges from one another and viewers. They held staring and whistling contests, bantered and gave advice on writing love letters and working out. P&G says Mustafa won based on consumer feedback such as "likes" and online comments.
They called the competition "Mano a Mano en El Bano" (hand-to-hand in the bathroom).
Mustafa said he wasn't worried, even though Fabio has been "the epitome of the sex symbol as a pitchman."
"Not at all," he told The Associated Press. "There are so many fans that enjoy the Old Spice Guy, there's not really a calling for him to disappear."
Even "the ferocious Ray Lewis," the Baltimore Ravens football linebacker, has taken a recent turn pitching Old Spice products, Mustafa pointed out.
The campaigns started with Mustafa appearing in a shower clad only in a towel and urging women to look at their man, and then back at him. Then followed an online video series, including one in which he suggested President Barack Obama could improve poll ratings among women by opening speeches with Mustafa's "Hello, ladies" greeting.
The campaigns engineered by Portland, Ore.-based agency Wieden+Kennedy won advertising industry awards, boosted Old Spice sales and have been cited by P&G CEO Bob McDonald as a leading example of the power of multimedia marketing.
Brand manager Allison Bolyard said Old Spice will "continue to find a variety of entertaining ways to engage consumers ... we love to surprise our consumers."
Mustafa said he expects to stay on as Old Spice pitchman "as long as people like the character and are having fun with it." Meanwhile, he continues to pursue his acting career in TV and movies including small roles in the current comedy "Horrible Bosses" and next year's "Three Stooges" movie.
Procter & Gamble, maker of consumer products including Pampers diapers, Pantene shampoo and Gillette shavers, is scheduled to report its fourth-quarter earnings Aug. 5.
Watch the video resolving the dust-up at www.youtube.com.