When you receive an email inviting you to get a hands-on preview of the world’s first ever “nice smelling gamer shower”, with an embargo of April 1st, you can’t help but assume that this intriguing invention might be an April Fool’s joke. And, in the sense that it is not a product that is actually available to purchase, it is. But to label it that would be a disservice to a creative team and brand, who assembled a meticulously detailed, immersive experience to rival any you might fight at big splashy events of the San Diego Comic-Con variety.
Except this isn’t a bustling downtown, coastal neighborhood buzzing with thousands of convention attendees. It’s a quiet college campus in the cobblestone hills of Mexico City.
Now that isn’t to say that the journey into the lair of a smelly gamer and beyond to the magical, sweet smelling land of Irish Spring (the design of which builds upon the Midsommar-esque Super Bowl spot) wasn’t “experienced” by swaths of gaming fans–second hand, anyway. Popular streamer Dante Rene Santana, member of esports and entertainment org FaZe Clan, streamed his adventure to a peak 16,000 concurrent viewers watching live via his Twitch Channel. The stunned member of Nuke Squad (so named for the four man team’s proficiency in wracking up nukes, triggered by a killstreak in Call of Duty) ventured with genuine shock and awe through the various stages of the activation, which ultimately culminated in the unveiling of the very real and functional gamer shower.
Revitalizing a Brand
The choice of talent for this event was deliberate on the part of Irish Spring, a brand that has been around for 50+ years and has long been a staple with older generations. “We are rebranding so that younger generations understand what Irish Spring is all about,” said Emily Fong Mitchell, general manager of Personal Care for North America at Colgate-Palmolive, “Because good, nice smells are having a reemergence. In fact, according to a survey that Irish Spring conducted among guys ages 18 – 24, nearly 3 out of 4 (74.5%) said that the top reason that they shower is to not smell bad. That’s not to say that being clean is unimportant to them, but wanting to smell good is a much bigger motivation.”
Santana is an ideal choice to reach this target demo as both a recognizable figure in the gaming space and a longtime Irish Spring user himself. During his stream he revealed that he has been using Irish Spring soap his whole life, a product originally introduced to him by his dad. Said Santana, “When I found out that they [Irish Spring] wanted a kid [to represent the brand], c’mon man, that’s a no-brainer.”
With over 2.5 billion gamers, 38% of which are aged 18 to 34, a little over half of them male, the gaming space was the perfect place for Irish Spring to tap into a fresh, young audience. According to a Facebook survey conducted by Chillblast, 1-in 5-gamers have admitted to skipping showering to grind a new game. Santana was not surprised to learn of this less than hygienic statistic. “I am guilty of doing something like that when a new game comes out or something,” he admits, “or when I’ve got to do a crazy stream, like twelves hours or something, I won’t stop and take a shower. But after I will!”
Irish Spring saw an opportunity to step in and create a solution to this problem. It’s not that gamers don’t care about personal hygiene–it’s just that they don’t want to sacrifice precious gaming minutes! Thus the idea for the Nice-Smelling-Gamer-Shower was born. A first-of-its-kind invention, this gaming shower provides dedicated gamers the opportunity to level up and freshen up at the same time. And Santana’s dedicated gaming audience were exactly the young audience Irish Spring needed to reach. Per Mitchell, “We need to show younger folks who we are and that our products meet their needs. Our brand takes people to a lush, fresh, clean land that only exists in the mind’s nose: Irish Spring. A nice-smelling place you’ll want to smell from.”
Creating the Land of Irish Spring
To physically create this fresh smelling paradise, Irish Spring called in creative reinforcements. “At the very beginning we were asked by Irish Spring to amplify their new brand world of Irish Spring, their new brand voice of humor and excitement,” said Noel Taborra, Group Creative Director at BCW Global, with whom Irish Spring partnered on the project.
To oversee the execution of both the set build of the activation and the livestream reveal event, BCW enlisted Tomas and Matias Maumus, AKA MUMU, a pair of Directors, from the Mexico City branch of production network, Rebolucion. MUMU remarked on the project, “It was such a bizarre and unique task on every level that it’s kind of unbelievable that, at the end of everything, this actually exists.”
The team was tasked with creating something functional. Unlike in a commercial, or film, where the magic often happens in post-production and not every angle of a set needs to be filmable, the intent here was to create a 360° environment in which one could immerse themself completely. And while creating a space that was fully decked out and “living”, the shower pod itself presented some unique challenges because, quite simply, it didn’t exist. There was no real life appliance to use as a basis. It had to work, and it had to be more than just a bathtub with a monitor nearby.
The shower needed to not only be a shower with hot water, soap, and a wash cycle so users would actually get cleaned off while using it rather than simply stewing in hot dirty water, but it also needed to be work from a gaming perspective, while still having visual appeal. That’s where the pod shape came in. The inner layer is a functioning jacuzzi, deep enough to accommodate a gaming chair, with a outer layer crafted around it to house 1) automatic soap dispensing tubes to deliver a fresh burst of Irish Spring body wash into the tub at intervals and 2) on the upper level, 3 curved gaming monitors, mounted at a comfortable viewing distance when seated and reclined in the chair.
Speaking to the construction of the pod, MUMU said, “We wanted like, when you guys get close, you see detail, you see the texture, you see everything you’re like, this is real, this actually is interesting, this is heavy–it’s not cardboard.”
The shower and environment crafted around it certainly had the desired effect on Satana. “The most shocking moment of this whole thing was probably going into the auditorium where the main thing was and just seeing the amount of effort that was put into making this set. It was unbelievable.”
And it wasn’t just the main event that featured that level of detail. Everything from the exterior entryway, lined with topiary bunnies, to the painfully accurate gross gamer room–complete with half eaten day-old pizza and the stark contrast of an immaculately clean gaming desk–to the inclusion of characters and visual motifs featured in the Super Bowl spot, Irish Spring managed to craft a fully realized world with elements to behold at every angle. The creative team even went so far as to grate bars of Irish Spring soap to create the fragrance that filled in the entire inner chamber where the shower pod was housed.
A detail that was not wasted on Santana. Describing the scent of the nice-smelling paradise of Irish Spring, he said, “I’m pretty sure it was the original scent, which is my favorite. So it’s like fresh and outdoorsy but it has that zing that gets you addicted to it.”
A welcome relief from the gamer room you had to pass through to reach it, which featured rancid smell-o-vision the likes of which have only been experienced at Halloween events of yore. If you ever smelled a very particular room in a maze based on a popular horror video game series at a theme park that’s also a movie studio in Southern California, you know what I’m talking about.
A Fresh Future
So was this ever an April Fool’s joke?
The answer is more complicated than a simple yes or no. When presented with the question, Taborra responded,”My number one thing was, I wanted [to create] the first ever gaming shower. And two it was like, all right, April is coming up, so why not help everybody to think oh this could be an April Fool’s joke and then pull the April Fool’s joke on them and actually build it?”
But they built more than just a gaming shower, a credit to the Irish Spring brand itself, whose efforts are focused firmly on their continued mission to connect with a new, younger audience. Said Mitchell, “When we unveiled the nice-smelling world of Irish Spring during the Big Game, we knew that this idyllic land where ‘stinkiness is unwelcome’ had so much potential in terms of storytelling and that it should live beyond just that one moment in time. The Irish Spring Nice-Smelling Gaming Shower brings in characters from the original spot—the rabbit and the villager whittling soap—and expands the universe and mythology of Irish Spring by showing how else this world is working to freshen up guys.”
So what’s next for the gaming shower? Well beyond living eternally in Santana’s Twitch VODs, the shower itself is still intact. Again, it’s a real, functioning piece of equipment, not a plywood a set piece. Whether or not the shower makes another appearance IRL, it’s clear that the story of Irish Spring, both the brand and the fictional place, is far from over.
According to Irish Spring, ”Our Big Game commercial and the unveiling of the Irish Spring Nice-Smelling Gaming Shower are so important to us because we just went through a brand refresh, and we want younger guys to know who we are, and that our brand, packaging, and products have been modernized to meet their needs and preferences. No longer just a legacy brand, it’s crucial for Irish spring to engage our younger target audience through their preferred entertainment mediums such as streaming services like Twitch. Our goal was to identify key moments to create playful activations that drive meaningful connections.”
While they did not divulge any specific plans for what we can expect to see from the Irish Spring Expanded Universe going forward, one this is clear: Irish Spring is on a mission to get in young men’s showers everywhere, and they just might have the innovation and sense of humor to do it. Or at least to create something that people will spend hours rewatching on the internet. And, in the year 2022, wherein the vast majority of the population are extremely online, I’d call that a W. Though I doubt anyone would say “no” if they had the opportunity to visit the fresh scented land of Irish Spring themselves.