New Lessons from Old Spice

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By now, I’m sure you’ve all at least heard of the Old Spice Guy campaign and the immense waves it made this week. It is one for the textbooks – a case study that will be reviewed, recounted and revisited for at least the next year, I’m sure. And with good reason. On every level, it was exemplary of what a digital campaign should be.

It answered all the social media ‘rules’:

  1. Be engaging
  2. Be integrated
  3. Be human
  4. Be transparent
  5. Influence the influencers

The campaign, which began with a string of hilarious print and TV ads, moved into digital using YouTube to broadcast personalized video responses to people talking about or to Old Spice across social networks (primarily Twitter, Facebook and YouTube but also across forums like Reddit and Yahoo! Answers). With YouTube as it’s very well-branded ‘homebase’, the campaign took the brand into other spaces with similar, but space-specific, creative treatments, behaviours and tone of voice.

The responses were instantly popular. Hilarious and off-beat, they very rarely spoke about the actual brand or product (unless, somehow, smacking a pinata with a dead fish is somewhere in the Old Spice brand guidelines). The brand became human. It wasn’t Old Spice the brand, it was the Old Spice Guy with (funny) stories.  And it was responding personally to us, the users, the ‘dearest and closest internet friends’.

While the Old Spice Man created videos for the ‘average joe’ (and did he ever – he actually even proposed for someone), he also responded to users with high levels of activity, followers and authority (such as Digg founder Kevin Rose and celebritweeters like Alyssa Milano, Ashton Kutcher and Ellen Degeneres) which helped the campaign grow exponentially. It brought the level to an accessible user level and found celebrity involvement without the celebrity fee.

Old Spice started by sponsoring a tweet to solidify their space in Twitter’s Top Trends and the campaign was trending across Twitter and the web within hours of the initial tweet (something that would have happened organically, without the sponsored tweet – but still a safe move on Old Spice’s part).

Throughout the campaign, the agency behind it all – Wieden + Kennedy – brilliantly kept an open-door policy about the whole thing, offering up behind-the-scene shots and tell-all explanations of how the process was working.

The campaign is a simple idea, executed well. It hasn’t reinvented the wheel, but it has defined the way we use it. What’s the big takeaway that B2B marketers can take from this?  That this isn’t just a B2C case study – it is a case study for B2B, too.

Before this, Old Spice was not an exciting brand. For as long as I have known it, it has been ‘the stuff my dad wears’ (and my Dad really does wear it which he will now claim makes him a trendsetter).

Campaigns like this are what give brands new traction. B2B has long had the reputation of being less fun and creative than the consumer side of our industry. We know that’s not true, so let’s get out the dead fish and started beating the piñata with it!

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