Project 1- Finding a Social Media Success

27 Oct

All right, first things first. Here is the video that started it all– that which makes everything else in this post relevant. “It took an old, sleepy brand and woke it up, and overnight wove its way into popular culture and showed the power of creativity to ignite a sleeping giant,” said jury President Mark Tutssel, global chief creative officer of Leo Burnett Worldwide.

For those who are terrified of a zombie apocalypse and have been living in a bunker for a year, this video and subsequent campaign is what is now known the world over as “The Man Your Man Can Smell Like,” if he used Old Spice of course.

It is also widely recognized in the social media realm as being one of, if not the greatest social media campaign of all time.

Let’s paint a little background picture before we delve deep into Old Spice waters. Wieden+Kennedy, the advertising firm credited with the success of the campaign, has its headquarters in Portland, Oregon and is one of the largest independently-owned advertising agencies on the globe. Describing W+K’s clients as big dogs is an understatement. Nike, Converse, Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Target, EA Games, ESPN and Microsoft are companies on their short list. We Detroiters even have this ad agency to thank for the incredible Chrysler “Imported from Detroit” ad with Eminem that aired during the 2011 Super Bowl (really, we are much obliged to you W+K, you helped bring us some much-needed good press). I digress. The client I examined was P & G, but specifically Old Spice.

The picture painted of Old Spice pre- “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” was much more grim than that of W+K. Competition in men’s body was had grown immensely in recent years. Though Old Spice is a long-respected brand who may be able to take credit for the first-ever marketing of body wash, products like AXE Body Wash for Men were kicking their behind. Old Spice was known as the aftershave scent for old men. W+ K knew the brand needed a makeover and decided to not only appeal to a younger demographic, but to women. Research found that more than half of all body wash purchases were done by women for their significant other, brother or the like.  The decision was made to create commercial directed solely at women and to launch it in a unique way.

The commercial in the link above was launched first online Super Bowl weekend and right after on television. “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” was a hit. The ads were strategically placed in slots where couples would be watching together and was supplemented by being available on YouTube.  In metrics described from this W+K case study, Old Spice caught 75% of all conversations in their market. Countless news organizations ranging from Ellen and Oprah to NPR, CNN and CBS were talking about Isiah Mustafa-“The Man Your Man Could Smell Like.” There were also hundreds of spoofs and rip-offs on You Tube, like this one promoting using the library at BYU.

Seeing the gigantic  buzz the commercial generated, W+K saw an opportunity to further capitalize on the success. They wanted to be more engaging than a witty commercial-have a conversation with their potential customers. And the best way to do that? None other than social media. The response campaign was quickly conceived.

In two days Isaiah Mustafa and the  Wieden + Kennedy, Portland creative team of Creative Director Jason Bagley, Digital Strategist Josh Millrod and Interactive Producer Ann-Marie Harbour (all out of the Portland office) recorded more than 186 tailor-made video responses to questions from everyday internet users and celebrities taken from Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and more. Mustafa’s wordplay, voice and outrageous props fueled more buzz. Here are a few examples of his responses:

and of course, his final response:

Now for a little bit on the metrics of the response campaign. On the first day of the campaign, the YouTube channel received 5.9 million views. More people watched its videos in 24 hours than those who watched Obama’s presidential victory speech. On its second day, the response videos took up eight of the top 11 videos on YouTube. At the end of the first week, W+K projected the campaign collateral was viewed more than 40 million times. In regards to the brands other social media outlets, Old Spice’s Twitter followers increased by 2700%. Facebook fan interaction went up 800%. Website traffic to Old Spice’s page increased 300%. Old Spice became, at the time, the all-time most viewed branded You Tube channel. In the six months after the response campaigned launched, there were 1.4 billion campaign impressions.  As far as bottom line contributions go, since the campaign launched, Old Spice Body Wash sales went up 27% in the first six months; nine months in up 55%; and in ten months up 107%.

When Jason Bagley was asked how the idea came into fruition about have personal video responses, he said “It was a genius idea that came entirely from the mind of Iain Tait (Global Interactive Creative Director). Eric Baldwin (Art Director), Iain and I were sitting around trying to think of how to capitalize on all the YouTube traffic we knew we’d be getting when the new Old Spice spots launched and Iain threw out the idea of having Isaiah Mustafa in a room for a few days making video responses to people’s YouTube comments. The only credit Baldwin and I can take is that he was looking at our faces when he said it.”

Josh Millrod explained the strategy behind the campaign as such “Typically, seeding strategies depend on activating “influencers” like bloggers, celebs and news outlets. Instead, we focused on activating communities. We knew that Digg Founder Kevin Rose was sick so we made a get-well video for him and posted it on Digg with the title “Get Well, Kevin Rose! Sincerely, The Old Spice Man” to tap into Digg’s passionate community. The video became the top content on Digg yesterday with over 5,000 Diggs. Next, we created a call for comments on Reddit and posted a time-stamped picture of Isaiah saying hi to Reddit. To activate the community, we tapped into their long-standing rivalry with Digg by posting the video we created for Kevin Rose. Submissions started flooding in and we quickly gained the first and second spots on Reddit’s homepage where the pic of Isaiah and the submission thread stayed all day. We also tapped into the large and influential “Anonymous,” which is widely considered the governing body of the Internet. They are generally wary of brands, but we knew that they were fans and the video we created for them got more than 90,000 views in one day and almost 4,000 likes on YouTube and less than 100 dislikes making us the first brand to ever effectively activate this community. Finally, we created videos for traditional influencers who were relevant to these communities and posted the videos on their blogs and @replied to them on Twitter. All of these tactics combined helped us activate large communities and drum up buzz before we even rolled out 10 videos. ” (Interviews taken from

When Digital Strategist Dean McBeth was asked if this campaign was considered a social media success his reply was, “Absolutely.”

The biggest determining factors in concluding the success of this campaign was the impressions made, the amount of web engagement the brand saw (more “Likes” on Facebook, more Twitter followers, etc.) as well as the client reception. Also according to McBeth, the goals of the campaign were, “We want to help young guys navigate the seas of manhood.” Apparently it was their overarching mantra from the beginning. The other, more specific goals of the viral videos campaign, according to McBeth, were to “amplify the second video in this series  and to push that story out there to the world. And second to thank all the consumers that have been apart of this Old Spice story,” said McBeth. The long term goals were also to increase sales and increase them within that younger demographic I mentioned earlier.

The tangible goals set by W+K were fairly effectively met. The Old Spice story was everywhere and consumers felt like they had a personal investment in the brand because of the personal touch via social media W+K advocated. While the long term goal of years down the road is yet to be proven (the campaign was first launched less than a year ago in Feb. 2010), Old Spice certainly saw a sales increase.

When analyzing the campaign to see what further steps W+K could have taken to make it even more of a success, it becomes difficult. The campaign was near perfect in regards to short-term success. The most remarkable part of this campaign in my opinion was tapping into the internet outlets that aren’t the most widely known first (they didn’t set this up via Facebook or even Twitter initially) and using what they knew about those specific communities to win their approval. For example, targeting 4chan (under the guise as anonymous in the video responses) was HUGE. 4chan is practically the definition of the internet and reaching out to that specific community with content it would approve of and embrace was completely genius. I would bet most conservative companies would never want to participate in or seek out a community such as 4chan, but let’s face it-most viral internet sensations ultimately have their point of origin on /b/.  I especially like how they utilized their social media knowledge by making a “Get Well” video for the founder of Digg. True social media success lies in a continued, practical knowledge of the community as a whole. The only way to really understand how to make a successful campaign is to be in touch with the target demographic and to use and understand the social media outlets being used. That is where the true success of this Old Spice campaign lay.

All other aspects of social media came with the success of the video responses. They didn’t have to push “Likes” on Facebook, create a hashtag or anything of the sort- the consumers did this all themselves. He was embraced almost universally.

The one thing I thought of that could have been improved upon (it was difficult because this campaign is considered to be a benchmark) but the brand didn’t necessarily embrace all of the spoofs that were spawned because of the commercial. I think it would have been an even further engagement opportunity to ask consumers to send in their own videos for some sort of contest. Maybe the grand prize could have been being in a video with “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” himself. Maybe even a lifetime supply of Old Spice for ya man. It would have shown how great of a sense of humor the brand has on another level-besides the tongue and cheek humor already evident. With this particular campaign, I doubt “too much engagement” would have been an issue.

As a tribute to “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like,” let’s enjoy one last commercial with him.


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