I'd actually heard of Creed several years before coming to Basenotes. I'd heard of Green Irish Tweed in particular.
My first few experiences with samples of Creeds were not that great. I thought Creed was overrated. But then I found something about Creeds that (to me) is inversely true about almost all other fragrances. With most fragrances, I'm crazy about them at first, then lose interest over time, wearing them less and less. With Creeds however, I often find them to be pretty good at first, but over time-- I want to wear them more and more frequently. I don't get sick of them at all.
As much as I love some of my L'Artisans, and other niche and designer frags-- my opinion of them changes-- at some point, they don't hit my nose with the same kind of "payoff" that they did in the beginning. My Creeds just seem to get better and better every time I wear them.
While I'm a big fan of unconventional fragrances like those of Comme des Garçons, I am equally a fan of perfectly made, top quality scents like those of Creed-- even though they may skew toward being conservative to some. They smell wonderful and in the real world, you just can't go wrong with Creeds.
I'm also a big fan of the "Creed House Note".
As far as hype goes-- put it like this: when you strip away the packaging, the marketing, the bottle, the name-- everything else. When you just spray some on and go out into the world amongst complete strangers-- and they react to you so overwhelmingly positively, then you know that it's not hype.
And in my experience of wearing various Creeds, people around me always react favorably to them. I love Creed.