Old Spice is using a quirky new ad campaign to pitch its new ‘manly’ scented bars.
Old Spice is using a quirky new ad campaign to pitch its new ‘manly’ scented bars. (Associated Press)

NEW YORK (AP) -- Old Spice is raising the bar, literally.

The aftershave brand, which is known for appealing to more mature men, is introducing a line of scented soap bars this month.

It may seem odd that Procter & Gamble, which has fought in recent years to refashion its 75-year-old Old Spice brand to target younger men, is rolling out something that some people consider antiquated.

After all, not much has changed with bar soap since P&G introduced Ivory soap in 1879. Body wash has eclipsed bar soap sales in 2010, according to research firm Euromonitor International.

Bar soap sales edged up just 1 percent in the U.S. between 2007 and 2012 to $1.62 billion, according to the firm's data. Meanwhile, body wash revenue jumped 30 percent during the same period, to total $2.44 billion.

But Old Spice executives say their interviews with thousands of men each year indicate that bar soap is popular among men. Some say it's what they grew up with, others prefer the "squeaky clean" feeling of bar soap and others just like the fact that it's cheaper than body wash, he said.

"We know that 42 percent of guys use bar soap in the shower, but only 15 percent of bar soap has ‘manly' scents," said Jason Partin, Old Spice brand manager.

The rest are odor neutral or have feminine scent, he said, leaving an opening for Old Spice.

The new soaps come in Old Spice's three most popular scents: "Fiji," a summery scent, "Pure Sport," a fresher, clean scent, and "Swagger," which is slightly musky. They're aimed at 25- to 34-year-old men, and will cost $3.99 for a 6-pack and $1.79 for a 2-pack.

To rev up interest, the company is rolling out an ad campaign on Tuesday that includes spots that make fun of jingle-laden soap commercials from the 1980s.

Procter & Gamble, the world's largest consumer product maker whose products range from Tide detergent to Crest toothpaste and Gillette razors, has focused on rolling out new products in North America as it lowers costs to boost its bottom line.