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Old Spice Videos; Viral Marketing Case Study Shows Success by Design!

How Old Spice Videos Are Being Made

How do you take the social web by storm in a day, winning over even the coldest of hearts and gaining international acclaim - with commercials?

A team of creatives, tech geeks, marketers and writers gathered in an undisclosed location in Portland, Oregon yesterday and produced 87 short comedic YouTube videos about Old Spice. In real time. They leveraged Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and blogs. They dared to touch the wild beasts of 4chan and they lived to tell the tale. Even 4chan loved it. Everybody loved it; those videos and 74 more made so far today have now been viewed more than 4 million times and counting. The team worked for 11 hours on July 14th to make 87 short videos, that's just over 7 minutes per video, not accounting for any breaks taken. Then they woke up this morning and they are still making more videos right now... Here's how it's going down.

Old Spice Videos; Setting the Stage

Old Spice, marketing agency Wieden + Kennedy and actor Isaiah Mustafa are collaborating on the project. The group seeded various social networks with an invitation to ask questions of Mustafa's character, a dashing shirtless man with over-the-top humor and bravado. Then all the responses were tracked and users who contributed interesting questions and/or were high-profile people on social networks are being responded to directly and by name in short, funny YouTube videos. The group has made videos in response to Digg founder Kevin Rose, TV star Alyssa Milano (now big on Twitter) and many more people, famous and not.

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. Those people that got responses, and many people who didn't, have Tweeted, Facebooked and otherwise shared links to the videos back out across their social networks.

Iain Tait, Global Interactive Creative Director at Wieden, is leading the effort. "In a way there's nothing magical that we've done here," he explained by phone this afternoon. "We just brought a character to life using the social channels we all [social media geeks] use every day. But we've also taken a loved character and created new episodic content in real time."

Old Spice Videos; How They Are Doing It

Tait 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. Tell that to the next person who claims that all so-called social media experts are just hot-air. Tait's own savvy no doubt played a large role in the success of the campaign as well. He's just been at Wieden for 3 months, after leaving a UK agency he co-founded 8 years ago. He was voted the Most Influential Person in the UK's New Media Age Top 100 Interactive Agencies Guide last year.


Tait says;

oldspice"In the room there are two social media guys and a tech guy who built a system pulling in comments from around the web all together in real time,"

(Right: Inside the studio, around noon today.)

"We're looking at who's written those comments, what their influence is and what comments have the most potential for helping us create new content. The social media guys and script writers are collaborating to make that call in real time. We have people shooting and we're editing it as it happens. Then the social media guys are looking at how to get that back out around the web...in real time."

The videos aren't being posted in chronological order immediately after the Tweets and comments they are in reply to. They get moved up and down a queue in a deliberate, orchestrated, if very fast way.


Tait: "Those people are having more fun than I've ever seen anyone have in a shoot like this. That's part of why it's doing so well. It's genuinely infectious, it transmits itself through the internet in a massive way."


How loved has the new campaign proven to be? 4Chan, the anonymous nihilist obscene message board from whence sprang memes like LOLCats and RickRolling, was the subject of what's now the 3rd most-watched of the Old Spice videos made yesterday, after the ones made for Perez Hilton and Kevin Rose. 4channers hate everything, especially people who talk about 4chan - which this savvy man in a towel did not do. But 200,000 views later, that absurd video response to "Anonymous" has received more than 4000 thumbs up from viewers and less than 100 thumbs down.

Old Spice Videos; Freedom

Tait says that Old Spice's parent company Procter & Gamble exhibited incredible bravery in allowing his team to write marketing content in real time, with little to no supervision.


"There is such great trust [between the companies]," he said. "But we are being very responsible. They have given us a set of guidelines and if we get close to the edges we contact them." That trust is all the more necessary because of how new this really is, in some ways. "If the message that comes out of this is that you can make TV commercials in 30 minutes, then we're all out of a job," Tait jokes. "This is something new. We're operating on Internet time but with a level of quality you'd get on a TV slot. That combination was what really got many peoples' attention."


Old Spice continues to post new, personalized videos to its YouTube channel. How long can they go? No one knows, but Mustafa's sure to smile seductively and make a goofy-macho joke about it once the team is done.


The campaign itself is unlikely to end even then, though. You can already get an Old Spice Man voicemail message generated for your phone. The coolest thing about that? That system wasn't even created by Old Spice or Wieden - it was built by a crowd of users at social news site Reddit this afternoon.


Update: At midnight Wednesday night, a very tired looking Mustafa posted the following conclusion.




Double Update: Now Alysa Millano has donned a towel her bathroom and challenged Mustafa to make a $100,000 donation to support wildlife restoration in the Gulf of Mexico... Well done.


Disclosure: Wieden + Kennedy is an occasional consulting client of the author's. But this story was too cool to abstain from telling just because of that.

Views: 67

Tags: Case, Design!, Marketing, Old, Shows, Spice, Study, Success, Videos, Viral, More…by

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Comment by Phillip Cannon on July 22, 2010 at 8:38am
Found an article that supports Ted's statement, excerpts from Yahoo.com

Isaiah Mustafa -- the actor portraying the now-ubiquitous "Old Spice Guy" -- and his perfect example of the male body have done wonders for Internet traffic while squashing the egos of mere mortal men across the world. Unfortunately, there's one thing that the Red Zone After Hours Body Wash ad campaign has thus far failed to achieve: selling Red Zone After Hours Body Wash.

There's no denying that the "Should Your Man Smell Like an Old Spice Man?" ad campaign has received enormous - and often rapturous -- media coverage. When the Old Spice Guy proposed marriage to a woman on behalf of a man who sent in his request via Twitter, Yahoo! was no exception. The problem: Sales are down a surprising seven percent. This situation is far from unique - mass attention does not always equal money in the bank.

Some theories listed: Are the women targeted by the ads not actually the ones making body-wash-related decisions for the men in their life? Is the Old Spice brand too "old" to resuscitate, even by a shirtless hunk who personally answers his fans?

My personal take - Old Spice is what my Dad used and I always thought it smelled terrible, I make the purchase decision on body wash in my house, they can target my wife all day long... but I'm not interested in trying it.

My personal choice in deodorant/body wash is from Axe and that got started in college when they gave out free axe on campus and I've been a loyal buyer ever since.
Comment by Ted Frazier on July 22, 2010 at 5:25am
But is it actually moving Old Spice deodorant off the shelves of supermarkets? Ad popularity does not equal product popularity. I like the campaign but does it fit with the Old Spice brand image that is already etched in the consumers mind? I can't help but think the real winners here are Weiden + Kennedy, not P & G.

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