Oh, you know its going to happen, brand marketers left and right asking their teams to "get me some of that Old Spice" social media magic. This recent campaign will be another benchmark of social media achievement. I know this because CNN (CNN International, actually) interviewed me on Friday to get my take on the campaign. As with previous, alleged big success stories - BMW Films, Subservient Chicken, Elf Yourself - this one demands that we answer three big questions:
- Was it successful?
- What about it made it so?
- No, was it really successful like did it drive sales?
In case you are just back from St. Barts or wherever ad people go for break, here is the skinny on the program:
For two days (July 13th and 14th), Isaiah Mustafa, dressed only in a towel, responded to fans from a set made to look like a bathroom. On Tuesday the 13th, the team at Wieden worked for 11 hours, to make 87 short videos. During the course of the campaign, 185- 205 videos were made, many of them directly responding to people's tweets and comments. The videos were personalized and posted to the YouTube channel. The average video length was thirty seconds. This character was based upon TV Spots and a few very popular YouTube videos from Old Spice most notably “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like.”
Trent Johnson (from the Interactive Department at Wieden) had created a custom program that automatically pulled in people’s comments from Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, etc., allowing the creative team to write immediate responses.Those scripts drove the development of the videos in near real time.
- Old Spice YouTube Channel Views - almost 8m
- Old Spice YouTube Total Upload views - 83m +
- Total subscribers on YouTube channel 120K
- Total Connections on Facebook 616k
(all data as of July 16)
Was it Successful?
By marketing standards for and FMCG, I have to believe this was hugely successful. Of course only P&G knows for sure, its their product and their business goals. But just look at the numbers - they created a huge amount of awareness and engagement over a very short period of time. Just in pure reach, its a great campaign. At least 4 of the most popular video spots on YouTube this past Friday were Old Spice videos.
Visible Measures had a great summary of the performance of the campaign putting it north of the President Obama's victory speech and Susan Boyle's performance. It's also clear that the original, high-production value videos that preceded the flash production stunt pulled in significant views and buzz.
Both their YouTube and Facebook pages saw big growth during this time. That means they have acquired to date hundreds of thousands people they can reach out to directly via those platforms.
While I don't have the data, it is safe to say that they increased positive word of mouth and share of voice - for the brand. Any twitter search will confirm. But did it, or will it boost sales? See me final point.
What made it successful?
It was creative, entertaining and just plain funny
Consumers want more from brands and Old Spice delivered. The initial video, “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like,” included compelling effects that most of us would have a hard time reproducing on our Flip Video cams (gross understatement). That's one way brands can deliver value - entertainment - to their customers. They had the full package of snappy writing, deadpan delivery from Isaiah and talkable moments (the fish).The format is great for ad agency creatives who can be some of the funniest writers in media. This was not about product utility nor about how the proper smell can get you the ladies (i.e. Axe). The value was the entertainment.
The real-time, rapid response to users made a video program "conversational" which built trust
They aggregated what people were saying about the brand and the videos and then created another video (185 actually) to respond. Instead of replying via a Tweet, they produced a little video and published it on the YouTube channel. The Old Spice Twitter handle then tweeted it out there. Giving people direct contact with the brand - even in this playful way - builds trust. It shows they are listening and willing to dance for their customers.
The custom intros personalized the content for everyone not just the recipient
Marshall Kirkpatrick at Read Write Web wrote: "It is well done and it appeals to peoples' egos - but there is something more, too. It feels very personalized, even if it wasn't directed at you." It's like the power of the @askamex customer care Twitter handle - its benefit extends beyond the few folks it can practically respond to by demonstrating to us all that the brand is listening and cares.
They worked hard for their followers
Most video shoot days are long and rigorous. The "almost live" ones put additional pressure - especially on the writers. Cranking our 87 videos in one long day takes stamina and commitment. That effort comes through especially since they didn't tell people how hard they were working. They just did the work.
The TV spots and high-production value videos built an audience prior to the 2 day stunt
They didn't start with a "48 hour film festival approach." They started with high reach TV spots. Then segued to a hugely popular online video with about 15m views. This built a base that was ready for the next move. I would love to see the growth chart for YouTube subscribers and Facebook connections over the past couple of months. I am guessing we would see a steep but methodical growth based upon all of these steps.
They drove both YouTube and Facebook subscribers/connection acquisition making this a "strategic" play
Many consumer brands hunger after the promise of a big fanbase on Facebook. the hope is that they can build a direct following whom they can respectfully market to and drive to action. Even if the viewing pattern of the actual videos drops sharply now that the stunt is over, they established that base to engage with the next thing.
Did it drive sales?
It's an important question. We will have to wait for P&G to report that part of the story. I am going to guess that it did. But for those of you direct response-type folks who believe it only matters if it drove sales now I say "smell like a man." The impact of the positive word of mouth will endure and possibly grow. The engagement - time spent, delight - with the videos has made an impression in a way that TV has increasingly trouble doing alone. They created preference for the brand that will translate into sales.And to those same direct response folks I say, you have to respect the subscriber/connections base they have built and all they can do with them tomorrow.
How to Reproduce it
The building blocks are called out above. If your goal is to copy the stunt tactic by tactic, I wouldn't bother.Wieden and Old Spice were smart enough to combine a lot of successful elements in a new way to create something that feels original. Pay attention to the building blocks and be original. Oh yeah, and add social media specialists to the strategic and creative mix. That is one thing Kirkpatrick calls out:
"(Ian) Tait (Global Interactive Creative Director at Wieden) says that the primary differentiator between this campaign and others is how closely technical and social media specialists are working with the creative team. "We brought social media experts right into the creative process," he told me."