Posts Tagged ‘old spice guy’

Lessons from the Summer’s Biggest Brand Stories

August 25, 2010

Warm days, blue sky and a little vacation (hopefully) lead to reflection.  So here we take a look back at lessons learned from three of the biggest brand stories of the 2010 summer.

The BP Spill

BP protestThere’s nothing like a strong dose of crisis to test a brand positioning.  After a decade-long run as an exemplar of how to develop a re-positioning strategy, BP (nee “Beyond Petroleum”) faced a tragic oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico that grounded our mental flights of “beyond” and left us with just “petroleum.”

There were some quick and highly visible reactions: a fake twitter account (with 10 times as followers as BP’s official account); not one but two BP logo redesign contests; and calls for boycotts, direct protests, and defacements of BP gas stations.

BP’s stock price has wavered between about half and 2/3rds of what it was before the spill, and there have already been a few estimates of the sinking brand value of BP. Some people, including several BP gas station owners, have even suggested changing the BP name entirely in the US.

Where will this all fall out for the future of the BP brand?  Payments by the company to those affected by the catastrophe, and an eventual “crisis fatigue” in the press will almost certainly have some positive brand impact. So it is not surprising that a recent AdAge poll came out perfectly split when asking readers whether BP could salvage its brand.

If you are looking for tips on how to survive a brand crisis, we recommend a recent article in the MIT Sloan Management Review that applies relevant research on persuasion from Prof. Gita V. Johar (Columbia Business School), Matthias M. Birk and Sabine A. Einwiller.

The World Cup

Hyundai vuvuzelaIt’s the biggest sporting event in the world and despite some frustrations with the drone of the vuvuzelas and bad referee calls, the 2010 World Cup achieved record TV ratings in the US and many other countries. And that, of course, doesn’t include numerous additional viewers (e.g. us) watching in pubs, online and even on their phones.

One “big vuvuzela” story demonstrates the need to work with all stakeholders (not just customers) when planning your marketing activities. Hyundai, a 2010 FIFA World Cup sponsor, was banned by the Cape Town City Council from blowing the 35 meter long vuvuzela (video) it constructed over an unfinished highway overpass. It was supposed to mark the opening of all the games in the stadium, but it was so loud the Council was concerned it might cause traffic accidents. We find this a bit ironic, considering FIFA President Sepp Blatter’s culturally-sensitive decision not to ban the African plastic horns inside the stadiums.

Event sponsorship is another key brand building tool at the World Cup. But Nielsen noted that some “ambushes” from ad campaigns launched by non-sponsor brands wound up creating more online buzz than the Cups’ official sponsors. The combination of sporting fever and great creative content is very powerful, and Nike hit it big by hiring acclaimed director Alejandro Inarritu to craft a three minute commercial video. While the ad was trimmed for TV, it has now gathered over 20 million views in its full length version on YouTube.

Old Spice Guy

Old Spice manIf you read any ad-related US press in mid-July, you already heard how Wieden+Kennedy and Proctor & Gamble created an online hit by adding social media interaction to its Old Spice TV ad campaign. Within one week of its launch, there were over 35 millions views of the 186 personalized web response videos from the Old Spice Guy himself, actor Isiah Mustafa.

Even before the sales impact of the web videos could be fully assessed, both BrandWeek and AdAge had articles looking at how the overall “Old Spice Guy” campaign might be affecting sales. The AdAge article brings up a particularly salient point by noting that multiple promotional efforts were taking place simultaneously with the campaign, thus “muddying” clear attributions to sales figures. If you have the budget to afford it, there is good reason to consider a marketing mix model for analysis.

David Rogers has penned an excellent piece on the lessons mass consumer brands can learn from the campaign’s interactive success, and how it excelled at connecting and engaging its audience.


Lessons from Old Spice Guy for Big Consumer Brands

July 29, 2010

Old Spice GuyLast week, the ad world was abuzz over the shockingly smart Old Spice digital campaign by Wieden+Kennedy (the mad men who taught Nike to “just do it”).

The brand’s series of 186 “video responses,” posted to its YouTube channel in a 2-day blizzard of creativity and interaction, attracted 35 million views in a single week. They catapulted this recently-ailing brand into the most popular sponsored YouTube channel ever (with 8 of YouTube’s 11 most-popular videos). And they generated an estimated 1 billion PR impressions in one week.

Best of all, the campaign’s viral success was not a fluke.  Old Spice Guy’s YouTube feat holds lessons for many consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands, who have struggling to figure out how to market a fresh, relevant “brand story” for products like body soap, when print and TV are declining, and new media seem more amenable to scrappy micro-brands than to behemoths marketed by the likes of Procter & Gamble, Unilever, and Kraft.

Two Steps to Digital Brand Building

Old Spice’s campaign succeeded with an artful two-step:

Step 1: Traditional Media

  • Pay: millions for a major national media spend (TV, OOH, etc.)
  • Hire: high-end creative talent (if you’re going to be on the Super Bowl, look like you belong)
  • Objectives: concept development & launch;  broad reach & awareness

If you missed it, Old Spice launched a brand character (you remember those warhorses, Tony the Tiger and the Duracell Bunny?) with the most old-fashioned of vehicles: a giant television media buy kicked off with the Superbowl, and a glittering CGI-driven 30 second spot (that overshadowed the character a bit, frankly).  The new character, “Old Spice Guy,” played with rippling abs and comic charm by the former NFL Wide receiver Isaiah Mustafa, seemed to be a keeper.

Step 2: New Media

  • Pay: nothing for free media (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter)
  • Hire: top creatives and a crack social media team
  • Objectives: creative execution matched with interactivity, to drive viral adoption in customer networks

The breakthrough thinking came in stage 2, a new kind of YouTube campaign. For two days, Old Spice Guy announced online that he was taking questions via social media like twitter and Facebook. As queries came in (“How many teeth do sharks have?” “What is the manliest thing you have ever done?” “Can U Ask my girlfriend to marry me? “) the answers started to come back, in the form of hysterically funny videos on Old Spice’s YouTube channel, each less than a minute long, with a new question answered every 7 minutes.

Best of Both Worlds

What Old Spice man shows us is that it is possible (with the resources of a major brand, partnered with a strong agency) to combine interactivity with a truly rich content experience.  That is, in the concepts of my research on customer networks, to combine a CONNECT strategy with an ENGAGE strategy.

Prevailing models for marketing in customer networks have focused on one or the other.

In digital programs like Doritos’ augmented reality packaging (where holding the bag to a webcam generated a holographic concert by the band Blink-182) or Kraft’s “iFood Assistant” app (which helps customers shop and cook, with the aid of branded products), the experience is rich, immersive, and full carefully designed brand signals (ENGAGE), but conversation with the brand (CONNECT) is limited or absent.

On the other hand, in social media programs like Comcast’s @comcastcares Twitter channel (answering customer service issues), or Pepsi’s Refresh Everything website (seeking customer votes on community projects to fund), the emphasis is on interaction and conversation with the brand (CONNECT), but the user experience is quite functional, and not really able to convey an “emotional” brand (ENGAGE).

Old Spice’s campaign shows a model for how to combine the best of both worlds:

  1. the emotional power of great branded content, wit
  2. some of the interactivity of a social media channel

That was the “oh my god” of the Old Spice videos that took everyone’s breath away. To send in a message on Twitter and get a 140 character reply from a person is now old hat. To get 140 characters back from a Fortune 500 company is still pretty cool (especially if they seem responsive and authentic). To get a hilarious comic video with the iconic face of a national brand speaking to you… was thrilling.

What It Takes



  • 2 days, 11 hour shifts
  • 186 video responses produced

A crack ad team to:

  • Churn out scripts and punch up silly lines
  • Run around finding appropriate props
  • Film in rapid-fire in a single setting
  • Select or edit the best takes (all at a rate of one finished video per 7 minutes!)

A web team to:

  • Vet all incoming requests
  • Pick the best (mix of questions, mix of celebrities, social media shakers, vs joe-anybody’s)
  • Get the finished videos up on YouTube and distributed into Twitter, Facebook and other channels

…and most critically:

  • A strong creative concept already developed (the brand icon’s personality and spokesman)
  • Permission from the brand owner (Procter & Gamble) to do this without vetting each video (an amazing level of trust)


Customer network marketing can work.  And it doesn’t have to be a crapshoot. Rather than hoping for your customers to create something spectacular on their own (like the “Diet Coke and Mentos” viral videos), or launching a Web-only campaign that you hope will take off on its own (fine for a small brand like Blendtec, but not for P&G needing to maximize a large marketing budget)… big consumer brands should find ways to keep telling great stories, and using digital media to combine interactivity with creativity. CONNECT + ENGAGE.

P.S. My Favorites

I haven’t watched all 186. But these are two of my favorites so far.

The first is Johaness Beals’ wedding proposal – charming, and a video anyone can get.

The second is Demi Moore – pure wackiness, to show how pushing the brand is what makes it work.


This post originally posted by David on the blog at:

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