So there was me getting misty eyed about the Old Spice campaign which I characterized as a last hurrah for the beautifully crafted TV commercial, the work of great (but old school) creatives in control of both the message and the medium… and then the social media blitz began. Responding directly to the buzz that the campaign had already created in blogs, on Twitter and YouTube, the team behind it created 183 videos over the course of 4 days, adding an additional 11million YouTube views to the 13million that the original TV spot had garnered (See We Are Social’s full case study here).
Particularly smart was the choice of comments and commentators to create video responses to, which targeted digital influencers (like The Huffington Post, Demi Moore and Ellen Degeneres) who had publicized the campaign in the first place and were rewarded with special content to share with their followers which flattered them (demonstrating their influence) and perpetuated the campaign on behalf of the brand creating a virtuous circle of content creation and sharing.
In my previous post I was making the point that in order to work in today’s fragmented and multi-faceted media landscape, campaigns can no longer be the domain of individual creative teams and must bring together the varied talents of a broader team of creators. At the time, I presented the Old Spice campaign as the exception that proved the rule, though what has become evident over the last week is that the campaign’s extended life has indeed been the work of a sophisticated ecosystem of specialists working (all hours) together.
In fact, whilst I was busy comparing the team behind the original commercial to Don Draper (sitting back with their Cannes Grand Prix, scotch in hand, admiring their handiwork as it played out on TV), they were busy together with media and social specialists, production people and of course, a (“ridiculously good looking”) actor, turning their campaign into a cultural phenomenon. Much like the Budweiser Wassup guys or Aleksander Meerkat, The Old Spice Guy has transcended his original context, sitting comfortably alongside other much-loved characters like Cartman and Borat. Indeed, so powerful a meme is he in his own right that he has become a platform for the communication of other brands – I would be willing to bet that this film made on behalf of sister brand Gillette has been far more engaging to consumers than any of their own advertising.
So a huge amount of credit must go to the creators of the Old Spice campaign.
- The people who realized that there was space for a real man’s brand as an antidote to the mass of metrosexual or infantile frat-boy alternatives in the men’s grooming aisle
- The people who conceived the campaign’s wonderfully 3 dimensional central character capable of living in any channel and beyond
- The people who delicately choreographed the TV spots
- The awesome actor
- The people who recognized the cultural significance of the Old Spice Guy and tapped into the buzz around him, selecting key influencers to perpetuate the campaign
- The people who were able to turn germs of ideas planted in tweets and YouTube comments into smart, humorous and engaging video content
- The people within the client organization prepared to fund the extension of the campaign beyond their original investment who relaxed control over the content so that it could become genuinely real-time…
And finally proof that advertising agencies are able to adapt to the modern world: combining the ability to uncover powerful insights, write high-level brand strategy and craft TV spots; yet also be fleet-of-foot enough to seize real-time opportunities, create lots of content quickly and cheaply and understand how to achieve maximum exposure in social media. A lesson from the creators at W+K to us all.