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What can we all learn from Old Spice?

Posted by Danny Whatmough on 10th August 2010

Over the last few weeks, one of the most unlikely brands has been on the lips of all social media enthusiasts: Old Spice. Yes, the deodorant brand, which brings back memories of slightly dodgy spells, whiffed when passing older men, has taken Twitter and Facebook by storm following the release of its latest “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” advert.

Ad agency Wieden + Kennedy took the campaign to a new level when it started answering questions posed by fans on Twitter and Facebook with personal video messages. Old Spice put together around 200 video responses, some within minutes of receiving questions from celebrities and laypeople alike.

The stats are impressive: 92,000 Twitter followers, nearly 700,000 likes on Facebook and just over 9 million channel views on YouTube. The brand has seen a 107% increase in sales in the last month.

Most companies throughout the world will be unable to pay for the genius of Wieden + Kennedy and the millions of advertising spend that fueled the initial success (this was not solely a social media campaign), but there are still a number of notable takeaways that brands of all shapes and sizes – B2B and B2C – can use to inform and inspire marketing, and especially social media, activity:

1. Challenge perceptions

Old Spice doesn’t have the greatest brand reputation. But what this campaign cleverly does is ignore previous perceptions and instead challenges them very boldly. In one swoop, consumers will now think solely of ‘The Man’ before any more negative connotations. Changing perceptions takes time, but Old Spice has gone a long way to doing this very quickly.

2. Personalise a brand

Personality lies at the heart of ‘being social’.  This is a campaign with a very strong personality at its heart. As with other advertising driven campaigns like Comparethemeerkat, the central figure is the one that allows social engagement to work effectively.

3. Creativity

This was a very simple idea, but one that was executed in a very creative way. Not only was it funny, it was inventive and quirky. It’s this creativity that succeeded in making it a social media success story, with people throughout the world happy to share it with friends. A great idea, creatively executed will go far.

4. Use one idea in multiple ways

Yet again, this campaign demonstrates the longevity of a great idea. W + K succeed brilliantly in taking a traditional advertising campaign and make it work digitally. It remains to be seen how this campaign will progress as I have no doubt there is still life in it yet.

5. Be social, be personal

Back to the personality theme and this campaign succeed in actually being social, in engaging with fans and followers. So many campaigns are successful in getting that viral element through social channels, but the ultimate goal is for a brand to actually be social itself. The personality of ‘The Man’ enables this to happen easily and quickly.

6. Traditional media can be social

So many traditional advertising campaigns tick many of the boxes mentioned here – creative, viral – but so many of them fail to really use social media to its fullest degree. This campaign manages it and proves that, used in the right way, traditional channels can be integrated with social ones to devastating success.

7. Celebrity can work

Building on from the previous point. it was no accident that W+K targeted internet celebs like Kevin Rose and Aplusk in their response videos. Targeting influencers is nothing new, but it’s not easy. You still have to have the compelling idea to make them sit up and take note.

8. Brevity is key

The responses videos were short, sharp and were more engaging for it. Video really does work online, its an incredibly visual medium, but too often, videos are lengthy and complicated. This campaign is a great case study into how to use video in a way that is engrossing and thereby increases the likelihood of being watched and shared. Creating lots of short videos is so much more effective that simply relying on the one more lengthy advert.