Ever heard the expression, “If it were a snake it would have bit me?” I’ll give you an example. This morning I was searching everywhere for my phone. While I was doing so I was talking to a friend on my cell phone saying, “This is ridiculous. Why do I always lose things?” Embarrassing, I know. However, if it were a snake itactually would haven bitten me.
It’s a classic idiom, but if you spin it just right it could be used for advertising. We want our ads to sell consumers something, but we don’t need for them to be screaming down their throats like that awful Brandsmart USA commercial. Some of the greatest examples of these subtle, but effective ads come from the annual Superbowl. For those who couldn’t care who wins, nor vaguely know who’s playing, the advertisements are enough to keep you awake.
Rance Crain, president and editorial director of Crain Communications quoted to the editor from a father: “My 6-1/2-year-old son cut through the mayhem of murderous lizards, a digitally reincarnated Elvis and dancing tomatoes to offer an unwitting, but telling, indictment of Super Bowl ads: “These commercials are cool. Not like the regular ones where they are trying to sell you something.” – Kind of ironic, isn’t it? However, that is precisely what we need to achieve. Still be the snake, still do your job, but hide in the shrubbery well.
If you didn’t have a chance to see the Old Spice viral video campaign, it would be worth your time to surf YouTube for awhile and catch yourself up on this brilliant form of advertising. Of course, that’s assuming that you have a few days to spare watching YouTube videos. Old Spice took a risk by attempting to redesign the way traditional advertising has been seen and instead create a string of viral videos that attacked YouTube and boosted Old Spice awareness. Their goal was to remove themselves from the traditionally seen “old man” deodorant product and instead take on a sexy and suave persona. After the original video was created, marketing agency Wieden + Kennedy and actor Isaiah Mustafa collaborated and made a brilliantly successful campaign called, “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like.”
The agency contacted different social networks and asked them to ask Mustafa questions. They then tracked the responses and chose certain ones for this shirtless, humorous, handsome actor to answer. He created more YouTube videos that explicitly said the user name and comically answered their questions with his own bravado, while still creating awareness for Old Spice. Taking a giant corporation, such as Procter & Gamble’s Old Spice, and personalizing it was a way to bring it back down to earth and connect with the consumers.
The chart below shows the Twitter mentions of Old Spice during the month that the viral video was released. When Old Spice (Isaiah Mustafa) began answering consumer questions and posting them on YouTube, the mentions became outrageous. Notice how they spike around mid-July, when before they were virtually non-existent.
Embedded chart of Twitter Trend for Old Spice
Not only were there more Twitter mentions during this time, but the Google searches for Old Spice (and similar terms) have increased tremendously in the past year, as shown below, and they are still at a continuous high even now. It is safe to conclude that these apparent increases in search are due to the initial wave of viral videos, followed by the mentions on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media forums.
Embedded chart of Google Search Trends for Old Spice
Although the development of the Old Spice campaign may not have converted all deodorant users, especially since bathroom products tend to have high brand loyalty, it is certainly a campaign that should not be overlooked. After all, as advertising creatives and media planners, the goal is awareness, and that was clearly accomplished. Wieden+Kennedy, the full-service agency, can hold their heads high after being nominated for three of the six Emmy awards this year, and Old Spice can proudly claim that this year’s commercial Emmy was in their honor, after beating out five other competitors.
So what can we learn from Old Spice and the way they approached advertising? I have narrowed it down to three different points.
1. It’s all about the consumers. Regardless of how clever you think you are, if your advertisements aren’t focused on your consumers – they will tank. Old Spice projected this perfectly. When the commercial was first introduced, I’m sure many assumed that because they used a sexy, shirtless man, they were targeting women who would in turn tell their men to go to the store and buy their product! However, when the humor was inserted, the direction that was seen shed light on the male ego, and every man was interested. Studies showed that the video was most popular with men, ages 25-34. So not only did their campaign reach the right gender, but it also reached the age group they intended on reaching – the younger, but still mature age group.
2. Inject personality. Old Spice, and more specifically Wieden+Kennedy, was never afraid to show that they have humor. However, they were also never afraid to show that their humor was above no one. When they decided to include personal videos that answered consumer questions, they injected their personality right into the lives of others. Some they responded to were famous, and some were nobodies. That way everyone who watched these videos felt they could relate. Doritos used this same idea during the Super Bowl this year, when they asked Internet users to submit their own commercials. It gave consumers the impression that Doritos has a humorous side, and that they care about their customers.
3. Never too late for brand image development. When brands switch advertising agencies, or when they realize that their slogan/tagline/commercial theme has become old and washed up, they toss it. However, sometimes company’s aren’t just trying to refresh their current campaign, they are trying to restart their campaign entirely. In this case, Old Spice was trying to find a new hook, but they were also trying to reach a new Target Audience. Cereal companies have been doing this recently due to the new focus on health. Many companies that used to reach out to children have begun to reach out to the mothers instead. It is important though, for any company, to remember that despite how concrete your campaign may seem, it is never too late to begin developing your brand image in the eyes of consumers.