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A Lesson from the Old Spice Guy

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owGykVbfgUE&fs=1&hl=en_US]

Now and then, we see the Internet blow up with activity. A picture or video spreads across all the social networking sites. This sometimes leads to the creation of spin-offs – inspired pictures and videos which follow the same cycle of viral circulation. In today’s Internet parlance, this is called a ‘meme’. And while many “old horses” from more traditional marketing backgrounds can think of this as just another mind-boggling phenomenon of the Screen Age, others see a potential innovation.

When Old Spice and its advertising agency, Wieden + Kennedy, saw its latest campaign was becoming a viral success, they immediately capitalized on it. Now, not only has the Old Spice Guy, perpetually wrapped in a bath towel and flashing a debonair smile, become a household name; product sales are growing and the company is enjoying a breath of new life in its industry.

Interestingly, the ad was first aired on television, often taken as a dying medium for marketing (which it surely isn’t – just changing in how it needs to be used). Soon, however, it started making its way into YouTube and the rest of the Internet. When the hype still wouldn’t die down months after its first showing, the agency decided to further feed the flame with exclusive YouTube videos of the Old Spice Guy, (actor Isaiah Mustafa), addressing various celebrities and online personalities. Not only did this succeed in ‘fleshing out’ the character endorser, the stunt ultimately led to a 107% sales increase. Wearing Old Spice is finally cool again – a seemingly impossible feat just a year or two ago. This is a huge feat for a men’s grooming line that has long been associated with middle-aged men (ahem!). This is all thanks to innovative execution of a globally thought-through marketing campaign.

Are you dismissive of the “new” marketing? Yes, there’s lots of hype and snake-oil… but if a medium can take Old Spice and make it a New Spice – then it IS powerful and must be included in the mix – at least considered.

August 20, 2010

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