Five things Old Spice reminds digital PR people

Five things Old Spice reminds digital PR people

Written by: Komail Mithani

July 19, 2010 4:14 pm 2 comments

This past week, we witnessed one of the most popular viral campaign’s in history. Old Spice and their new advertising gem, Isaiah Mustafa, have turned a lot of heads and set a new precedent for future viral ad campaigns. You may have noticed that every popular social network. news aggregator or Twitter feed was talking about the Old Spice guy and the humorous videos he was in that responded to various Twitter replies. People were posting these videos on what it seemed like every network. The video below was by far my favorite:

The best part about the campaign is that Old Spice knew exactly when to quit, on a high note of course, which sometimes is hard to determine. This well orchestrated and executed plan was developed by Old Spice’s agency, Wieden + Kennedy. Read Write Web had a great blog post covering how the agency executed this campaign.

But, I think as digital PR and social media strategists start dissecting the Old Spice campaign, they’ll begin to understand that this campaign was very basic.  As Iain Tait, Global Interactive Creative Director at Wieden, said, “In a way there’s nothing magical that we’ve done here. We just brought a character to life using the social channels we all [social media geeks] use every day.” If you think about it, Ian is absolutely correct.

The reason for my blog post, is to uncover five things all digital PR and social media strategists should be reminded by from this historical campaign. These fundamentals are basics we may take for granted, like the air we breath in this industry, but I think they are important and the reasons for Old Spice’s recent success.

  1. Content, content and content – We all know one of the most fundamental things to driving traffic, creating links and potential new sales is content. Whether it’s breaking news about your company or competitor, industry trends, professional advice or some unrelated topic that gets picked up. Content is what I like to call the bait, which attracts new visitors and generates exposure for your company. In this case, Old Spice decided to create and distribute content in real-time, in the form of short HD commercials seen on Youtube. It was astonishing they reached close to 6 million views and 22,500 comments with their content.
  2. All channels of social media are important – When social media strategists for this campaign were releasing these videos and trying to get as much exposure as possible, they attacked nearly every network and posted and shared their videos. They even used 4chan, an aggregator I had never heard of till this campaign started being covered. This just goes to show you that every network can become a gem for your content. But, since the nature of the commercials appealed to such a board target, this strategy was most appropriate. I guess what I’m trying to say is picking and choosing the right network to broadcast your content is as important as the content itself.
  3. Personalization is a key factor to driving attention – You may have noticed by watching a few videos of Isaiah, that they were first humorous and second personal. Even though he was directing his witty comments to a specific Twitter user, you felt as if he was talking and addressing you. Old Spice crafted their videos, as if the 5.9 million that viewed them, felt a connection with Isaiah. Maybe this is why so many people shared their videos so rapidly and without hesitation.
  4. Capitalizing on your client’s strengths – Instead of trying to change something or add something that doesn’t reflect Old Spice’s brand, Wieden + Kennedy capitalized on what Old Spice already had, Isaiah. They capitalized at the right moment and seized the opportunity of something that was right in front of their eyes. I’m sure they did some research on consumer reactions/attitudes, which showed Isaiah and Old Spice had a positive correlation between him and the brand.
  5. KISS IT – (Keep it simple stupid) This may be the most obvious, but sometimes we forget this simple phrase. Old Spice and their agency did exactly this, they kept it simple. They created short and funny HD videos, uploaded them on Youtube, and integrated them in high traffic networks in order to earn exposure. Youtube was probably the best choice because of the simplicity they allow their users to share videos online. In addition, realizing the short attention span their target market has when it comes to online videos, they created videos no longer than a minute, some even 30 seconds in length.

Although Old Spice opened up the doors for new innovative marketing, that I’m sure we will see again very soon, they really didn’t do anything new. Yes, the whole real-time response commercials to Twitter questions was a great idea, but if you think about it, they stuck to the fundamentals. The idea was genuinely new, however the foundations and principles have always been the same. Maybe that is exactly what we forget sometimes as social media strategists? Maybe we forget to stick to the basics when building exposure and campaigns to our brand’s or client.

My guess is that Domino’s new “Show us your pizza” campaign will be highly praised by social media strategists for their high customer involvement, yet simplistic marketing idea. What do you think?