How the Old Spice hunk took over the world

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It’s hard to miss the dulcet tones that introduce audiences with the now infamous “Hello Ladies” line in the multiple Pitch Blades Award winning Old Spice series of commercials, The Man Your Man Could Smell Like by Wieden + Kennedy (W+K).

But just in case you were living under a rock, the Old Spice commercial was first a YouTube success, followed by a TV ad, followed by a massive social media response campaign that got the whole world talking.

Born out of a desire to trump a Dove Men+Care Superbowl ad, what made it a success was its new approach to rejuvenating an old brand. Its idealistic stance means the brand suddenly became alluring to both young and old alike in a unisex way.

W+K had the male model in the video on standby against a green screen to record instant, polished responses to tweets and Facebook comments. Thus, the concept of a brand message swiftly became a brand conversation, back and forth, across platforms and mediums, which helped it scoop six Blades Awards for creative and digital advertising. It is also the Marketing Week Engage Awards digital campaign of the year.

Ultimately this campaign was about starting a conversation between men and women about body wash…one that celebrated the virtues of manly-smelling Old Spice over “lady-scented” brands.

The inception of “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” was to be the perfect spokesman for the situation at hand. A crusader against “lady-scented” body wash, his suave, charismatic ways appealed to both sexes…and his “look at your man, now back to me” dialogue practically forced a conversation between ladies and their guys.

This story held true on YouTube. By April, “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” had amassed more than 10 million views, more than 10 times the number of views for Dove’s Super Bowl commercial.

Meanwhile, the “Response” campaign garnered some incredible statistics as it skyrocketed through pop culture. Key statistics include:

  • On Day 1, the campaign received 5.9 million YouTube views, more than Obama’s victory speech after 24 hours (source: Visible Measures)
  • On Day 2, Old Spice had 8 out of the top 11 most popular videos on the web (source: Visible Measures)
  • By Day 3, the campaign eclipsed 20 million YouTube views
  • One week post-launch, the work had been seen more than 40 million times.
  • Twitter followers increased 2700%.
  • Facebook fan interactions went up 800%
  • Facebook fans increased 60% (from 500,000 to 800,000)
  • Oldspice.com traffic increased 300%
  • YouTube subscribers for the brand more than doubled, increasing from 65,000 to 150,000
  • And Old Spice also became the #1 All-Time Most Viewed and #2 Most Subscribed Branded Channel on YouTube

“The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign also had a positive impact on the bottom line, and sales far exceeded expectations.

According to Nielsen, by May of 2010 unit sales of Old Spice Red Zone body wash had increased 60% from the previous year. And by July of 2010, sales had more than doubled versus the prior year, with an increase of 125% – an all-time high for the brand.

According to W+K, the most important insight had to do with targeting. P&G’s own research had uncovered that 60% of men’s body washes were actually purchased by women, and it was this insight that prompted the radical creative project that ensued, and enabled a low-cost strategic plan of action for a famously low-involvement category.

It achieved buzz from both sexes and enhanced exposure by this buzz, helping to keep it going for a prolonged period of time. Help from digital influencers went on to push the campaign to be talked about worldwide – In the first three months following the campaign’s launch, Old Spice captured 76% of online buzz (with over half of this coming from women).

The campaign has now scooped over 100 awards globally – including an Emmy – and continues to grow in notoriety. It undoubtedly has lessons for others to learn from in building brand perception from an otherwise low-involvement product.

For more on great viral campaigns see the Pitch website here

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