If you spend much time on social media, you know how easy it is to connect and share with people you identify with.
It has unmistakably revolutionised how we interact and ultimately build relationships with each other.
One of the most significant changes is that we now have the ability to filter the content we are exposed whether by carefuly curating who we are following or searching for a hashtag (or topic, prefixed by a # such as #ausvotes) on Twitter.
While this increases the relevance of the news that we see, it is often the case that the views expressed in our Twitter feeds, blogs and podcasts echo our own, which is the reason we follow them in the first place.
Take for example the recent Federal election. My Twitter stream was filled with tweets supporting the National Broadband Network and decrying the Internet filter – two views I passionately support. If I wanted to know the other side of the argument, I wasn’t going to get it without stepping outside my circle on Twitter.
If you want to truly understand, you need the complete picture. You need to consciously get outside your personal social media echo chamber and follow someone whose views challenge our own and force us to answer the tough questions.
Now that the dust has settled, I thought it was time to revisit my original assertion (I was wrong) and see what impact, if any, the campaign had and we as marketers can learn from it.
It began with traditional media
LOLing at the hundred or so YouTube videos that were created, it’s easy for international audiences especially to forget that the Old Spice campaign first took shape as a very traditional TV ad. Not just any ad, the spot earned top prize at this year’s Cannes Film Lions Grand Prix and went viral.
For this reason it’s a misnomer to call it a pure social media campaign. Without the mainstream awareness and equity built by traditional media, it’s doubtful that we would have cared as much as we did when Old Spice started creating personalised videos responding to Twitter celebs.
Turns out they were wrong as well with Procter & Gamble (Old Spice’s parent company) recently announcing a 55% increase in sales of Old Spice over the last 3 months and a 107% increase in the last month alone.
The bottom line is the campaign worked and based on the massive growth over the last month, and while we can’t say for sure social media played a role in this.
Extending the brand with social
So if the Old Spice ads as a whole did what they were supposed to and drive sales growth, what did Weiden + Kennedy (the Portland agency behind the campaign) get right with social?
Based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback towards the TV ads and the affinity the public felt towards the Old Spice guy, they identified an opportunity to move the campaign beyond traditional media and bring the character to life with social media.
The idea was deliciously simple and surprisingly low-tech considering the buzz it generated. Essentially, it leveraged on a very simple concept “make a series of 30 sec spots” and used social media to make it relevant to the audience. Read Write Web wrote a terrific piece about how the videos were made.
We should be doing this
Well actually, no.
While it’s a foregone conclusion that client’s will soon be asking their agencies for copycat campaigns (Cisco already tried and failed with Cisco Guy), without spending big bucks to build brand equity and a campaign concept that resonates with customers, it’s doubtful that Old Spice’s success can be replicated.
Even then, for social media marketers, the Old Spice campaign failed to leverage all the good stuff inherent in social media: conversation, community, engagement. As great and as innovative as the campaign is, it remains a brilliant traditional media idea that was very smartly repurposed and repackaged for social media.
Hat-tip to Mitch Joel and Joseph Jaffe who I just found out covered this topic in the latest episode of Six Pixels of Separation. I only realised this last night while listening to the podcast and well after this post had been written. If you want to hear their thoughts, you can listen here.