Just one week before a full production staff was in Miamisburg for the filming of the commercial, DeFries was in Indianapolis celebrating a family birthday when he received the call.
DeFries was a bit suspicious at first that the whole might be a prank of some sort. However, the phone call quickly turned into a conference call with the agent from the advertising agency representing Procter & Gamble, owner of the Old Spice brand, and it quickly became clear this was the real deal.
The agent said their team had been looking unsuccessfully in Ohio for months for the perfect car wash to shoot the commercial. But when the commercial’s New York-based director came across photos and videos of the Miamisburg car wash on the internet, the director said it would be the perfect set.
DeFries said when the director told him and his family of the plans, “We’re looking at each other, and our eyes are this big. We’re going, ‘Holy cow! This is huge!’ I mean, we’re in Dayton, Ohio — this is little Miamisburg!”
Last year, DeFries completed major renovations of the car wash to rebrand it to be more themed to Miamisburg — the Star City — and to also be more patriotic, as DeFries is a U.S. Marine veteran, and serves as a veterans’ advocate. The car wash’s building has housed multiple businesses for more than a century, and its new look, with a blue, red and white-striped theme, was exactly what the Old Spice team was looking for.
The commercial promotes the new Old Spice Barber Shop that opened in Columbus in February. It is Old Spice’s first stand-alone, brick-and-mortar retail location. It houses a “content studio,” space for shooting promotions, a rec room and will also host a residency program for well-known barbers, according to an article by fashion and technology publication, Glossy.
To complete the project in time for the shop’s soft opening, filming had to go on, despite a frigid forecast of 2 degrees that was predicted for that Friday morning — although thankfully, the temperature reached 19 degrees before the end of the day. The cold didn’t seem to faze the crowds of Miamisburg onlookers.
By 9 a.m., the Old Spice camera crew and actors were underway with the shoot, and lines of cars began rubber-necking at the car wash, DeFries said. Passengers held their cellphone cameras out the window as they tried to snap photos of the larger-than-life human head getting a mock haircut at their hometown car wash.
“So what was exciting for me, my very first aftershave in the 1970s, like how (in) the movie Home Alone, where the kid is shaving and puts the aftershave on his face, and he goes, ‘Aghhh!’ Well that was my moment with Old Spice,” DeFries said.
Around 9:30 a.m., a passerby took a picture of the scene and posted it to a Miamisburg community group on Facebook. Before long, DeFries said, more people began showing up to catch the action from across the street.
For the longtime Dayton business owner, DeFries said the entire day was one big adrenaline rush.
“All I could do was just, throughout the day, just smile and experience it,” DeFries said. “Just what it feels like to be on the set of a major Hollywood-type production.”
Since the commercial aired, DeFries said posts on his business’s Facebook page are now gaining thousands of “likes” compared to the hundred or so it would attract before the shoot.
“It was really neat for the town,” DeFries said. “I take a lot of pride in this town. The one thing I’ll never forget is when the director thanked me at the end of the day, he said, ‘You have the most beautiful carwash — it was meant to be for this set.’”
See the final commercial below: