[Update: EEE! Old Spice Man read our post and sent me a personalized video of my own. Check it out on YouTube or see the embedded video below.]

The stars, they align.

Yesterday we chatted about the lack of remarkable content on the Web and the “good enough” ideology that’s been adopted. I argued that your brand was worth more than polished crap, while some insisted that you don’t need a Rolls Royce to get to the grocery store. In the end, a couple of commenters suggested that I be happy with the low standard of Web content because when so many people under-produce, it helps those focused on remarkable content stand out even more.

Two words: Old Spice.

It started yesterday with one cryptic message from the Old Spice Twitter account that read:

“Today could be just like the other 364 days you log into twitter,” it read. “Or maybe the Old Spice man shows up.”

The result was amazement.

There was a mass halt in productivity on the Web yesterday as all eyes were on the Old Spice Twitter and Old Spice YouTube account. On Tuesday, Old Spice man Isaiah Mustafa began collecting questions posted at him on sites like Twitter, Reddit, Yahoo Answers, etc, and answered them with immediate YouTube video responses. All in all, Old Spice wrote and created more than 115 different video responses. And they were consumed like candy.

The content Old Spice created yesterday wasn’t “good enough”, it was remarkable. It set the bar for the kind of social media campaigns that companies can launch on the Web and encouraged brands to be better.

Why was the Old Spice campaign so remarkable? Grab a pen.

It was all done in real-time

The genius of yesterday’s campaign was that users could submit questions to the Old Spice man and, within minutes, watch a video response to their question. The immediacy of the campaign drew people in and had them sitting at computers all afternoon watching the Old Spice Twitter page update. We wanted to see what he was saying now and see if OUR question had been answered. It broke down that third wall and showed us that Old Spice was listening, in the moment, and that they heard us.

It created personal connections

Old Spice did something social media experts recommend to brands all the time – they made personal connections with influencers. They reached out, by name, to prominent media, celebrities, news outlets and and common folk who should be aware of Old Spice, addressing them with personalized messages that they’ll remember. There was no mass emailing here. The responses were carefully written to address each person individually. The video made to Alyssa Milano dripping with Who’s The Boss references? OMG, awesome!

You can’t watch just one

If you were living under a Rhea rock yesterday and haven’t seen any of the videos, you’re gonna want to block off some time to catch up. Because they’re completely addicting. And the fact that you can’t watch just once is what MAKES them viral. You can taste the fun the writing team is having with these and you want to see what’s coming next. You almost feel like you’re missing something by NOT viewing them all.

They got the media involved

This was really, really smart. Many of the videos Old Spice created were directly in response to media outlets. By doing that, Old Spice ensured that the media outlet not only saw what they were up to, but it gave them an ego-charged reason to share it with their own audiences. And from there, the media swarm snowballed. Old Spice created videos targeted at (links go to individual response videos. No charge.) Perez Hilton, GQ, Gizmodo, The Huffington Post, Twitter’s Biz Stone, Digg’s Kevin Rose, Guy Kawasaki, The Ellen Show, and many others.

Here’s a taste:

It’s fun

The reason this campaign has worked is because users are enjoying watching the videos. They don’t see them as “marketing” or Old Spice’s attempt to sell to them. The content is so good remarkable that users simply like consuming it. Media and celebrities are tripping over themselves simply trying to be part of it. That’s the difference and what makes it remarkable.  Audiences have fallen in love with Isaiah’s character and they’ve become invested in the brand.  They want to be part of it and support what Old Spice is doing. And that’s going to translate into increased sales.

What is the immediate result of Old Spice choosing to create remarkable content instead of “good enough” content?

  • The Old Spice YouTube Channel is the fourth Most Subscribed to sponsored channel of all-time and the third Most Viewed sponsored channel of all time.
  • In the past 24 hours they’ve received media coverage from every major news outlet under the sun
  • They’ve interacted with the Web’s top influencers
  • Old Spice keeps bringing down YouTube.com [that’s power!]
  • People are invested in the campaign, in Isaiah and, best of all, Old Spice.

It’s going to be really interesting to see the full brand awareness numbers come in as this continues to grow over the next few days. Be aware that thought the early adopters watched it unfold in real-time yesterday, it will take a day or two for “regular people” to really become aware of the videos (and Old Spice isn’t done yet!).

Not too long ago Old Spice was a brand that was largely forgotten or something that was worn by your father. This weekend, watching the latest commercial (embedded below), my boyfriend asked me if he should switch over to Old Spice. The momentum Old Spice is creating goes beyond just “silly Web videos”. They’re using remarkable content to capture brand awareness, eyes, and in the end, sales.

UPDATE: Old Spice Man says he loves me!


About the Author

Lisa Barone

Lisa Barone co-founded Outspoken Media in 2009 and served as Chief Branding Officer until April 2012.


67 thoughts on “Old Spice: The Man Your Content Could Smell Like


  • Ryan Jones on said:

    And yet Old Spice sales numbers are down 7% since the “I’m on a horse” commercial first aired…. (source: http://www.brandweek.com/bw/content_display/news-and-features/direct/e3i637c45eb15b9f7a3bea2bd7792d22ba9 )

    While I think the campaign is building tons of awareness on social media outlets, how does it translate into sales or ROI? My guess, the ROI won’t be worth it.

    Personally, I buy deodorant and body wash every other month or so. (they usually have deals for buying 3 packs and what not so I get those) Given the long buying cycle, are people really going to remember these videos in 30, 60, or 90 days when they’re at the supermarket, or are they going to default to the “buy what’s on sale” behavior?

    Of course the same argument can be made for the original commercial…perhaps it just needs time to run before we see the sales increase.

    it’s clever, it’s unique, it’s groundbreaking….But will it be profitable and what’s the ROI? Those are the questions that matter at the end of the day, and right now the ROI just isn’t there.


    • Lisa Barone on said:

      Before you can have sales, you need awareness. People need to (a) know that you exist and (b) care. Before February, Old Spice was a dying brand. No one cared. The difference now is that people do care, they are invested, and they’re being reminded, in very personable ways, that the brand is there and interesting.

      Is that going to translate into overnight sales? No, no more so than SEOing your site will or getting a single link. But you have to start at awareness and they’re doing an excellent job with that. I think they’re going to see a definite ROI here. If anything, what have they lost. They surely weren’t bringing in anything before these campaigns. ROI matters, but you have to give it time to establish itself.


      • Frank on said:

        Lisa,

        You can project all you want. While you think that Old Spice will see a definite ROI, it’s not a case study until they do. I’d like to see your next blog post in the months ahead show the ROI with numbers direct from Old Spice as a result of their YouTube campaign. Show us the goods! And I will believe you. Otherwise, while social media may help to build awareness for a brand, it’s no guarantee for a boost in ROI. You’re excited about all of the awareness generated by social media for Old Spice. Old Spice wants to see sales.


    • Josh on said:

      Money comes from other places than the store purchase. Investors seeing the amount of attention Old Spice is getting could get them to buy stock.


    • Kim M. on said:

      Uhhh … remember when Axe because the “it” grooming line?

      Women love him. Men want to be him. It’s hilarious, memorable, and sexy. And like Lisa said below, it’s still tied to the “man’s man” image of Old Spice (but no longer the “old man’s” image). The Old Spice rebranding is brilliant. There’s no way it won’t show up in the numbers eventually.


  • Randy S on said:

    I agree with Ryan. What’s the incentive? What reason do people have to switch? Currently, the only reason I can think of is to reward the cleverness of Old Spice (and they do deserve a reward).


    • Lisa Barone on said:

      What’s the incentive for buying any brand of body wash over another? As I mentioned to Ryan up above, it starts with awareness. People are being reminded that Old Spice isn’t just for your grandfather. It’s the man’s man’s choice. Old Spice is doing a great job reaching out and creating the relationships it needs to pull people in. ROI isn’t overnight, but I believe it’s going to come. Social media, like anything, takes time to prove itself.


      • Heather Villa on said:

        Exactly. The point is that when someone is in the body wash isle, they won’t just look over Old Spice. They’ll think, “Hey, that’s the guy from YouTube!” And they’ll pick up a bottle to try.

        It’s a brilliant campaign. I can’t wait to see what they do next.


  • Dvir Reznik on said:

    The Old Spice campaign will be taught in business and marketing courses for many years to come. As you wrote, they kept us all involved, all the time, on our content, waiting to see The Old Spice Man.
    I wasn’t aware the videos were created within 24 hours – that is amazing!! I personally watched over a dozen responses.

    In 2 words: Old Spice!


    • Lisa Barone on said:

      I agree, Old Spice is going to become the new Zappos/Dell/Comcast that we hear about all the time. They’ve cemented that position with this campaign and they deserve the attention they get for it. And the writers all deserve massive bonuses for being able to create those quick soundbites in real-time.


  • Chris Reimer on said:

    That’s the most remarkable thing – “Should I switch to Old Spice?” I cannot imagine anyone asking this question before this campaign began. In the past few years, Cadillac has succeeded in reaching a younger demographic (Escalades in rap songs, generally better cars). Honestly, Old Spice is for old creepy dudes in Corvettes. Or is it???


    • Lisa Barone on said:

      That’s the most remarkable thing – “Should I switch to Old Spice?” I cannot imagine anyone asking this question before this campaign began.

      Bingo. ;)


      • ReaderX on said:

        And for most of us, the answer will likely be: No, I don’t want to smell like a horny 14 year old who fell in a vat of cheap perfume.


  • Joe on said:

    Great post Lisa!

    Obviously Old Spice hit a grand slam with this campaign. It contained all the right elements, as you noted in this post. What really stuck out to me was the writing behind each video. Considering these videos were done in real time, the writing had to be as well.

    My only fear, when it comes to sales, is will one day of videos be able to generate a long term buzz that will convert to sales. As consumers we have short attention spans and while I may purchase the old spice today because of the videos, would I still be as apt to purchase it two weeks from now?

    No doubt the awareness has been created and is there, but how long does it last. And if you are Old Spice, do you leave it alone or do you pick it back up and keep going with it?


  • Todd Mintz on said:

    Waiting for the “parody” video(s) where the shirtless man is someone who you don’t want to see shirtless…

    It is brilliant because it shows marketers of our ilk are finally getting into powerful, influential positions with large enough budgets to affect change in non-traditional ways.


  • Suzanne Vara on said:

    Complete and utter brillance! This campaign not only is increasing awareness, it is creating that cool kids club which will translate into sales and lots of em. People will remember the vids next time they go to the store no doubt about it. They will identify with the Old Spice Man and want to be that man and a part of the campaign. Human nature. People want to associate themselves with something popular as if it increases their own popularity. It is now cool to wear Old Spice and people want to be cool.

    I agree that this campaign will be what is talked about as an example. This was so well done on all aspects.

    @SuzanneVara


    • ReaderX on said:

      Who will identify with the Old Spice Man? This is where the campaign loses me. I’m not 14.


      • Shawn Christenson on said:

        Where do people get that everyone always has to identify with someone else. That people like ‘Spider-Man’ because they identify with Peter Parker? Why is it always a case of identifying with someone? I think it’s hilarious and i think he delivers his character with much gusto. I love it. There’s no identifying with him. He’s just funny/cool/whatever


        • Heather Rast on said:

          I think you’re suggesting there’s a strong entertainment value in the videos, and if so then I’m sure we’d all agree with that in spades. It’s amplified by the fresh candor we normally wouldn’t associated with “our grandfather’s brand.” It works so well because they’ve executed the campaign in multiple channels, maintained a consistent tone/voice, and actually pulled their audience – literally – in to participate. They’ve made us realize we’re silly to typify the product as old-fashioned, that being sexy has timeless appeal.

          As for your reference about identity, I’m stumped. Brand identity is a cornerstone of a brand’s strength and appeal. The deep-seated need for consumers to seek out products, teams, groups, etc. which reflect their own values, priorities and image is age-old. The Spider Man/Peter Parker reference is genuine…the character licensing works so profitably because young children everywhere want to be a talented hero.


          • Shawn Christenson on said:

            Brand Identity is that we recognize the brand. That’s how I understand it. But Identifying with something is connecting with it to where I can feel an affinity to it – that I can say ‘that’s like me. I like them because they’re like me’.

            See the thing is, the general feeling is that people relate to Peter Parker because he’s got problems just like us. That’s how i understand it when someone says ‘I don’t identify with ….’ – the thought that we have to understand or connect with a character.

            And so then, if a character (like Old Spice guy) is someone who just can’t be ‘identified’ with – well then we can say it’s bad. And it confuses people.

            Brand Identity = obviously needed. But that’s different from identifying with a character because they are like us somehow. I just don’t think that’s what people gravitate to most of the time.


  • Joe Hage on said:

    Lisa, thank you for penning an article I felt compelled to comment on.

    I emphatically agree with @Dvir. This will be taught in marketing courses for years to come. It is clever, engaging, and brings life back to a dying brand.

    For those saying, “Yeah, but that won’t make me switch brands,” I say:

    Perhaps the campaign alone will not. Couple this with increased shelf space, point-of-purchase displays, and promotions and you have the ingredients for success.

    Remember too, this campaign can work for new users. And while I’m no category expert, few tweens wear deodorant. When they enter the market, Old Spice can be an aspirational brand for them.


  • Monique Eddleton on said:

    Lisa, great post!

    Joe Hage hit the nail on the head! The videos and commercials alone may not directly translate into a buying decision – they hardly ever do. However, these are likely part of a larger, integrated marketing campaign (print, tv, radio, POP, internet, etc), which is all designed to consistently reinforce the brand and compel purchasers to consider Old Spice when they likely would not have during previous purchasing decisions.


    • Joe Hage on said:

      Monique, thanks! I like your comment, “…consistently reinforce the brand and compel purchasers to consider Old Spice when they likely would not have during previous purchasing decisions.”


  • Graywolf on said:

    You can do this kind of stuff occasionally, but if the old spice man was creating them everyday not only would it cost a fortune to keep doing but it would lose it’s specialness.


      • Graywolf on said:

        you have good posts and then you have great posts. Lets be honest a lot of those great posts come with an intellectual or emotional cost … and you simply can’t do that everyday it’s not sustainable. So you save up that intellectual and emotional currency to use when it’s important.

        You don’t spend the emotional currency on the little problems cause it’s not worth it.


        • Lisa Barone on said:

          There are different levels of excellence, certainly. I’m not saying you have to be a 10 every day, but there’s a difference between averaging an 8 and not even showing up on the scales.


          • Graywolf on said:

            They could make toilet bowls out of gold, and they would last forever because it’s the most non-reactive and non-corrosive of all metals, but you can’t justify the cost. So they choose a cheaper material realizing your toilet bowl will need to be replaced sooner. You can get a lot of ceramic toilet bowls and a lot of extra stuff for the same price as one gold toilet bowl.

            There’s a difference between saying I’m setting out to make content that sucks … versus I’m setting out to make content that’s good enough to get the job done.


  • Shawn Christenson on said:

    It’s shocking to me that people are wondering how this will translate to sales and that it won’t pay off. Shocking.

    I remember in 11th grade when Snapple did some massive campaigns for their Iced Tea. Commercials were everywhere and kids in my class loved them.

    Suddenly the local store had to carry snapple. A whole cooler just for snapple. The commercials eventually died down but the ‘love for snapple’ didn’t until after I had graduated. Friends still picked Snapple over any other Iced tea brand.

    What Old SPice is doing is going to be amazing to watch unfold. This is so genius it’s that ‘why hasn’t it been done yet’ sort of thing.


  • Heather Rast on said:

    Maybe something that’s not specifically addressed (maybe assumed) is that the brilliance of Old Spice creating a memorable, compelling figurehead and intelligent use of social technologies to create word-of-mouth most assuredly wasn’t taken on in exclusivity. That would be like gorgeous wrapping surrounding last year’s fruit cake. What I’m saying is, the product hadn’t been tanking because it sucked, it had been tanking because the image we had of the brand was no longer relevant to us.

    Previously, the brand had become negatively associated with an outdated image this generation couldn’t relate to. We naturally seek out products which represent the image we want to presume, or that we feel is a natural extension of our own. Even a packaging update alone in recent years couldn’t take up the slack in the consumer’s minds. But the OSM campaign gave a decent-performing product a much-needed Reason To Consider: he’s funny, he’s attractive, and he’s current. Marketing innovation rather than product innovation here.

    What’s not to love?


    • Davina K. Brewer on said:

      Heather, great point about marketing vs. product innovation. It’s repacking the brand, shaking up perceptions that may shift thing. Lots of other comments here about how this may make the “Old Spice” brand seem cool again, so well done.


  • Ryan Jones on said:

    Agree with Graywolf.

    To truly classify as “social media marketing” you have to not only have a plan and a process, but it has to be measurable and ROI has to be calculated.

    If you can’t tell me the impact of your efforts, it’s no longer “marketing.” Having experience in a very large agency, I can say that views, impressions, and mentions may impress clients, but it’s $$$ and ROI that they look at when it comes time to hand over more money or renew the contract.

    I really do hope this campaign results in good returns for Old Spice, as I am a huge fan of it, but I fear it may not justify the cost.

    (I know social media seems cheap, but when you’re dealing with the brand level it’s certainly not. You have to pay the actors, camera crews, writers, creative talent, IT, and legal who no doubt look over everything said.)


    • Lisa Barone on said:

      To truly classify as “social media marketing” you have to not only have a plan and a process, but it has to be measurable and ROI has to be calculated.

      If you can’t tell me the impact of your efforts, it’s no longer “marketing.” Having experience in a very large agency, I can say that views, impressions, and mentions may impress clients, but it’s $$$ and ROI that they look at when it comes time to hand over more money or renew the contract.

      And in your first comment you assume there WASN’T a way to measure all of this. They’ve been at this for 24 hours. Let’s give them time to finish what they’re doing before marketers pine about how it’s about ROI.

      Obviously there’s a cost in scripts, camera, legal, etc, but are those costs higher than any other type of marketing effort or are they lower? My guess is they’re at least no higher.


      • Halvorsen on said:

        This is probably going to be hailed as one of the best social media marketing campaigns of all time. It is spanning across all of the major social media networking sites and it is being picked up by everyone. I’m sure this is far cheaper than advertising on lets say, the Super Bowl. And I am certain this will be far more successful in terms of ROI.

        They’re reaching out to the big names and celebrities, as well as people with few connections on their social media profiles. This is leading to EVERYONE replying and asking their own questions in the hopes of having their question answered.

        This is truly one of the best social media marketing campaigns of all time. And as you said Lisa, very little time has passed.

        I already use Old Spice body wash and have been doing so for years. I can’t imagine how this campaign WOULDN’T have an awesome ROI.


  • Lori Bourne on said:

    Congrats on your own video, Lisa! I happened to see it at YouTube and even though it wasn’t directed at me, my heart was pounding just to see your name up there! Eeeeeee!

    I can’t think of anyone who delivers as consistent a message about marketing as you do (show up! be yourself! be creative!) so it’s really perfect that you got your own Old Spice video.


  • Rhea Drysdale on said:

    Bottle of Old Spice Swagger purchased. My husband and I were both curious about the commercials and even more so after the social media campaign. He didn’t want to purchase the bottle on principle because of the “Swagger” name, but it smells good and the product description on the back is hilarious. I’ll be honest, the commercials made me want him to smell like a man, not the Dove body wash we both use. He’s a man, he should smell like dirt, beer and the Old Spice guy. Those commercials weren’t for men, they were for the women who sleep with them! Great campaign, it certainly caught our attention… even if I live under a rock. :P


  • Michelle Lowery on said:

    To answer your boyfriend’s question…yes. Yes, he should switch. At least to the body wash. My husband uses it. It smells fantastic! If they turned it into air freshener or candles, I’d have that scent all over the house. :-)


  • Cynthia Nagle on said:

    Lisa, you hit the nail squarely on the head here. Commenters Dvir Reznik, Joe Hage and Monique Eddleton especially are also right on the money (literally) in their observations. Awareness precedes sales! This is just one component of a larger, integrated campaign that’s been ramping up for a few months, and just hit warp drive in the past couple of days. Obviously some time must elapse to be able to measure the impact on sales. Geez, has this video campaign made everyone expect immediate results on EVERYTHING now? ;)

    What I find odd (interesting?) is that no one has yet mentioned the ad agency behind this genius campaign, Wieden + Kennedy. What a triumph for them AND their client. For my money, the very best of these videos (no offense, Lisa) is the one where Isaiah Mustafa answers his own daughter’s question: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvuYcbgZl-U. That is just the sweet icing on the cake.


    • Joe Hage on said:

      Thanks, Cynthia! I appreciate the “props.” I hadn’t seen the video to Haley. It is delightful how the campaign is so tongue-in-cheek it allows for this kind of everybody-in-on-the-joke winking.


  • Bob Gladstein on said:

    It’s great marketing. No question about that. And I wish I could add to that a caveat like “but it all depends on the product,” but it really depends on how people can be made to think about the product.

    To me, Old Spice smells like Old Man, because for my generation, it’s a product that we associate with men 30-50 years our senior. But when I was a kid, only grandparents drank schnapps. It was a drink for old men from the old country on cold nights. Now, it’s nectar for frat boys.

    Anyway, I’m sure the Old Spice they sell now comes in numerous fragrances, not all of which smell like my grandfather. Then again, I bet the formulas for those fragrances are astonishingly close to those of products by Axe, Gillette, and plenty of other companies. Again, the difference isn’t so much in the product. It’s in how people can be made to think about the product.


  • David Zemens on said:

    Remarkable concept and implemented to perfection.

    Who would have thought that such innovation in social media manipulation would come from a brand as stodgy as Old Spice. But that only made the campaign even more successful.

    I think naysayers just wish they would have thought of it first.


  • Davina K. Brewer on said:

    Lisa, Great post (working on my own for Old Spice but had to comment).

    ITA with many of the comments here that 1) this campaign will be studied and probably copied for a while and 2) time will tell regarding the ROI. Yes they’ve increased brand awareness and brand value, possibly the stock prices.. but sales? Wait and see, but I suspect they’ll see an increase. The trick of course is to retain the new and returning buyers.

    Loved your point that they got the media involved. Clearly most of the replies were to those will larger followings, but not all and targeting some replies to media outlets was a smart, strategic move.

    This campaign was also about demographic shift in the target audience, as these ads–for a man’s grooming product–were directed at women, the women who buy these things, for men. Probably obvious, but it struck me as a smart move. FWIW.


  • Maranda Gibson on said:

    Old Spice definitely has stepped up and presented great content. Their video’s have been funny and witty — I love the Alyssa Milano one (aside from yours Lisa :) ). They are very clever and funny, and they are a big hit. My husband has stated that he wants to be like the Old Spice man — and has officially made his switch over to Old Spice.


  • Sherry Gray on said:

    I want to rush out and buy Old Spice now. Although the scent reminds me of my dad. Which is a little disturbing on my husband.


  • G Man on said:

    The reason this campaign will pay off is that Old Spice actually has a phenomeno and underratedl product line. They have for years. A friend of mine turned me onto their “High Endurance” non-antiperspirant deodorants in high school, when they were introduced in the mid-90s, and i have never turned back. Better scents, and far better performance, than anything else i’ve tried. and yet this new campaign is even making me think “gee, maybe i should try some of their other, newer products?” Girlfriends would always insist on sniffing my armpits and/or sweaty shirts ask what i was wearning. ain’t kidding. sounds disgusting and you can’t make this stuff up. When i would tell people i wear Old Spice they would raise an eyebrow and make a snarky comment.

    This campaign will make a difference because the product is superior, and all it needed was a great campaign. the next wave will be the people who try it telling others – during conversations about the videos – “you know, their products are actually awesome.”

    Last point, someone above made the point that these adds are targeted at the women who sleep with men, as much as men themselves. great point, and accurate. while not true for my house, in many cases these women are doing the shopping, and can get something new for their man to “just try.”


  • David Hackett on said:

    I’m an ad guy and I’m jealous. Not because you have a boyfriend, but because the Old Spice campaign is something I didn’t think of. Trust me, many other ad guys will comment, critique and scrutinize the silly details — but deep deep down inside they’re just as pissed off that they didn’t think of it either.


  • Frank on said:

    Also Lisa, since sales are down for Old Spice, by 7%, it should give you pause to consider who this ad’s target demographic is. It’s not young men ages 12 to 30 who make up the largest segment of the YouTube viewing audience.

    This ad is targeted towards married women who would consider buying cologne or aftershave for their husbands. And how many wives find Old Spice a desirable product?? Time will tell.


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