Best Practices — Old Spice Marketing Campaign
Posted on November 18th, 2010
This year is a good year for Old Spice. Starting with the “Smell Like a Man, Man campaign” followed by the successful Old Spice Man viral videos, the once quiet brand is now stirring up plenty of buzz among marketers and consumers alike. When I went to the Society for New Communications Research 5th Research Symposium earlier this month, I attended a session where Old Spice brand manager James Moorhead told the stories behind the recent marketing success. In this blog, I’d like to share some of what I learned with you.
The Old Spice marketing campaign is called “Smell Like a Man, Man”. So far, the campaign has gone through three phases:
Phase 1: Launched around the Superbowl time, it uses humorous vignettes featuring a sexy man to convey the brand’s role in the journey from a young man to full manhood. During that same time period, Dove was planning to launch a competing new men’s personal care product line Dove Men+Care on Superbowl. But Old Spice decided to launch its campaign “around” Superbowl rather than on Superbowl for cost efficiency and proper audience reach (more on that later). Below is a commercial from this phase.
Phase 2: Followed a few months later, this is mainly a continuation and reinforcement of messages from Phase 1. The creatives featured a similar tone and approach. You can see the resemblance with Phase 1 from the video below.
Phase 3: This is the climax of the entire campaign. At this point, the funny commercials were already creating a lot of buzz, and consumers were seeking out Old Spice in social media channels. To utilize this opportunity and to engage in a more intimate relationship with consumers, Old Spice took the approach of a viral engagement campaign. On July 13, it announced that the Old Spice Man will be coming around its Twitter account and invited consumers to ask him questions. During the course of the next 48 hours, a total of 186 user-submitted questions were selected, and each was responded to with a funny video featuring the Old Spice Man. One of the videos helped Twitter user @Jsbeals propose to his girlfriend:
And she said yes!
Over the course of the campaign, Old Spice gained over 2 billion impressions. Their Youtube videos had a cumulative view of 50 million, out of which 40 million were from the first four days of posting. Although no exact sales figures were revealed at the session, Moorhead stated that Old Spice is now the #1 body wash and deodorant brand and that its products have been flying off the shelf since the start of the campaign. Another significant gain is reduced media cost. By using the Internet and social media to reach consumers, Old Spice was able to lower its media expenditure by 15%.
Why Was the Campaign So Successful?
A key reason why the “Smell like a Man, Man” campaign was so successful is its reaching beyond a traditional audience. As a male personal care brand, Old Spice has traditionally targeted male consumers. But the company research showed that 60% of the time, females have significant input in purchase decisions. Inspired by this, Old Spice decided to target both men and women with this campaign. It further aimed to create a conversation between males and females surrounding the product category. One tactic the company used was to reach out to men and women when they are most likely to be together. For instance, during Valentine’s Day and Independence Day, with big movies arriving at the theaters and families/couples often going to movie theaters together, Old Spice showed its commercials before movie previews. Although the unit cost for this media channel is higher, it reached men and women when they were idle together and therefore were in the best position to discuss the funny and somewhat controversial Old Spice messages.
Another success contributor is the creative engagement of consumers in the campaign. James Moorhead said during the presentation that “this is not a viral story. It’s an engagement story.” He pointed to the successful integration across media channels. While the original campaign creatives in the form of TV commercials were already a hit among consumers, Old Spice went one step further to capitalize on the early success with its Old Spice Man viral videos. It invited consumers to openly “converse” with the brand and then used what the brand does best (videos) to respond to consumers. While there have been other brands creating wildly popular viral campaigns, Old Spice is one of the few that tightly integrated the viral campaign into its main brand theme (rather than as a standalone viral campaign) and at the same time developed a close relationship with consumers through social media channels. This helped turning one-night viral success into actual purchase behavior (i.e., ROI). At the time of this writing, Old Spice’s Facebook page is liked by 1,079,063 consumers, and the brand’s postings on the page is actively commented on by these fans.
James Moorhead shared a few lessons that the brand has learned from the campaign:
- Trust between client/agency enables you to be nimble, flexible, timely — key elements for real-time success in the digital world. During the Old Spice Man viral campaign, the company gave its agency complete creative control over the 186 videos, which contributed to its creativity, authenticity, and consistency.
- Prioritizing consumer interactions can lead to optimal influence and viral effect. Old Spice picked the Twitter questions to respond to based on user influence and creative potential, and it tried to select a mixture of celebrities and ordinary people. While the exact selection mechanism is proprietary, I am sure the proper selection of these individuals helped propel the campaign into wild success.
- Creative briefs must be laser focused.
- Collaboration across disciplines = Greater, deeper impact
So what do you think of the Old Spice campaign? Where the brand should go from here? What have you learned about integrating social media with traditional marketing channels? Please feel free to share your thoughts.