What All Companies Can Learn From The Old Spice Campaign

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Old Spice Leveraged A No-Name Actor In Isaiah Mustafa For Its “Smell Like A Man, Man” Campaign

By now everyone has seen the Old Spice “Smell like a man, man” videos and has read the New York Times story about this creative, smart program. So what can PR pros, marketing exec’s, and companies of all sizes learn from this overwhelmingly successful campaign? Here’s a few of my thoughts:

1. You Don’t Always Need A Celebrity For A Campaign – Sure, celebrities help (unless Mel Gibson is your spokesperson) get people’s attention and create awareness of your product, but not every company has the budget to enlist an A-list celeb for its campaign. With Isaiah Mustafa, Old Spice used this former NFL Europe player as the face of its product. Why did this work? Because the idea was great and the company believed in it.

2. All Of Your Resources Must Have A Place In Your Campaign – From Twitter to YouTube to the Old Spice Web site, the company did everything it needed in order to promote this program. Bottomline, if a company only puts a small amount of effort into publicizing its campaign and not using all of its available resources, it will never achieve the type of success it was hoping for.

3. Involving All Company Social Networks Is Critical – Engaging with its audience and inviting them to ask Mustafa questions via the Old Spice Twitter handle and Facebook pages was great. But having Mustafa answer random questions and even help a random guy propose to his girlfriend on the Old Spice YouTube channel was brilliant. And not only did he answer questions, but several videos were posted with amazingly fast turnaround time. We all talk about the need for real-time answers and information, and Old Spice did everything it could to quickly record its responses and get them out the door.

I could go on and on about the many things that companies could learn from this campaign, but what else would you add to this list?


18 comments on “What All Companies Can Learn From The Old Spice Campaign

  1. I think that it is important not to overlook the most important part of this, which can easily be lost in all of the talk about new tools and social media, which is that people like to be entertained. Let’s face it, that character is entertaining. The writing is clever. That is why it works.

    While it is nice to have all of your channels lined up in advance of launching something like this, I do believe that the channels would open themselves up for something as entertaining as this. People will want to forward this to friends on FB & Twitter, add it to their favorites on YT, etc. because they get something out of it – entertainment.

    I’d be careful about too much analysis on the other factors. I’ve seen people who study and perfect the stuff you have mentioned above, but fail on the front of creating something an audience enjoys.

    • Great point, Jeff. At the end of the day the central focus of the campaign should be on whether or not people will be interested in what you are doing. My main point of tis post was that not every company does the other things that are needed in order to help make a program successful.

  2. I thought what was ingenious in the campaign was that they conducted a real conversation using video, as opposed to simply responding through print. If success is measured through education, engaging and entertaining, they took engaging and entertaining to a new level.

    Most companies do not need to achieve 40 million video views so any company could use an inexpensive flip video camera to engage with their community. A little creativity can go a long way.

  3. You make some great points here but fail to mention that Old Spice has not capitalized on sub surface marketing. Sub surface marketing is an emerging trend that will likely be as effective as SM within 5 years. I know a lot of PR agencies turning to sub surface marketing because it is so cost effective. Imagine what Old Spice could have accomplished if they had turned to SSM and not played it straight with conventional media, including the internet.

  4. The self-segmenting nature of this campaign is what impressed me most. For example, I’m working on a library campaign, and when the library-related video went up, I was interested. “The proposal” hooked wedding industry people and couples, and on and on… They not only combined all elements of a traditional campaign beautifully, but also worked WITH the fragmentation of our culture.

    Smart move on the gender targeting, too. Nice nice nice.

  5. Interesting post. I’m curious if anyone knows if this campaign moved the sales needle, because, bottom line, if it’s failed to do so, well, then, this was pure entertainment with great exposure for the brand and Mustafa (gotta love him!).

  6. The campaign is hilarious; appeals to both men and women, and from the “focus” groups in my household – middle age people to teens.

    I too would like to know if Old Spice sales have increased.

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