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Old Spice's Extreme Makeover

How Procter & Gamble is selling the once-stodgy brand to a whole new generation

What's the top-selling deodorant and antiperspirant among teen guys? How about Old Spice, a brand once associated with a has-been, highly fragrant aftershave whose ivory bottle still gathers dust on medicine-cabinet shelves. Since Procter & Gamble Co. (PG ) acquired Old Spice in 1990 it has transformed a small stagnating brand into a men's personal-care powerhouse.

And it's not just teenagers. In the past 18 months, Old Spice has inched by Gillette Co.'s (G ) Right Guard to become the nation's leading deodorant and antiperspirant for men, with 20% of the $1 billion market, according to ACNielsen Corp. To get there, the Cincinnati consumer-products company had to pull off one of the hardest tricks in marketing: repositioning a familiar brand. "If you told me five years ago that Old Spice would be No. 1, I would have said you were dead wrong," says William R. Geary, divisional merchandise manager at Walgreen Co. (WAG ), the largest U.S. drugstore chain. "It's cool where it wouldn't have been cool five years ago." Now P&G hopes to extend its success to an array of Old Spice products.