March 23, 2011

Look at your man, now back to my blog!

Without wanting to be another blogger posting links to the most successful viral campaign of 2010 by Old Spice, I want to discuss 3 specific learnings that I wanted to share about the approach that their ad agency, Wieden Kennedy, took for this terrific campaign, as well as their results.

Click on pic below to see the original video content that started it off.

1, Incredible Creative Idea

The first thing that Wieden Kennedy did right – they came up with a highly original, entertaining creative idea (with genius casting) that was launched to perfection mainly via TRADITIONAL media channels (Note that this part of the campaign is largely PAID MEDIA and lots of it via TV and Web etc etc!)

This is why corporations need to have access to incredible creative talent to find that ‘buzz worthy’ idea that people will want to share.

If you do not have anything worth talking about for your product or service, you have zero possibility of creating viral media (FYI – wiktionary definition of viral media = media that is passed from person to person.)

It is no different in the non digital real world –  I am not going to talk to my work colleague about an ad or a piece of video at the water cooler, if it doesn’t stand out from the clutter or interest me.

The same applies to a Facebook fan page – it’s probably the greatest social media myth that if you create a Facebook Fan page, then consumers will like it and share it. WRONG (at least, if you have no entertaining or useful content strategy to provide the consumer.)

The real world analogy that I find best explains this empty Facebook Fan page syndrome is having a dinner party, and once your guests have arrived and sat down around the dinner table, you realize that you have forgotten to provide any food, drink or music for them. They are going to leave very quickly and not return! (Even the dog looks disappointed in the pic below!)

2, Micro-content

Look at your man, back to Micro-content.

After the initial Paid Media phase to create awareness for this fantastic creative concept, the Response phase began, whereby Wieden Kennedy identified 186 key, influential, North American Bloggers such as Kevin Rose, Founder of Digg, Perez Hilton etc etc and created 186 tailor made videos that mentioned the bloggers’names specifically in the videos.

These videos were Old Spice’s replies to the bloggers’ tweets about the Old Spice campaign.

In my opinion, advertising is going to become more like this going forward, with smaller, more frequent pieces of video content produced that are more tailor made and less generic in nature.

It is likely to become a lot more fragmented and complicated, and communications between brands and consumers are likely to become more like political campaigns, by reacting to situations in real time based on qualitative and quantitative data.

As an example of how a Canadian competitor, Axe, reacted to Old Spice’s campaign by producing a tailor made billboard , check this out!

Look up, back to me!

3, The campaign results

This campaign allegedly generated an incredible 1,4 billion impressions of visibility in the various media channels; in fact, I would imagine that the actual number is significantly higher than this now.

I noticed that web traffic to Old Spice had gone up 300%. Now 300% sounds like a lot, but honestly, for a site that probably had very low levels of traffic prior to this campaign due to the nature of the site, a 300%  increase vs. a very low level of pre campaign traffic, is actually insignificant if you compare it against the other incredible campaign metrics achieved.

It demonstrates that advertisers can have huge online and offline success from a branding and offline sale perspective, without dramatically increasing traffic to a corporate web site  – Sales increased massively and Old Spice became the number 1 body wash for men. Net takeaway – Let’s not always get hung up on clickthrough rates and driving traffic to sites as online success benchmarks.


  • Viral Campaigns need an incredible creative idea or utility to be successful – if not, you have nothing.
  • Viral campaigns need to be kick started with Paid Media to create awareness (as a general rule.) If the idea resonates, you can feed it and it may snowball if done well, and if you’re lucky! Difficult to predict the ‘stickiness’ of the big idea.
  • Viral campaigns needs a planned strategy to create and maintain momentum.
  • The majority of Viral or Social Media campaigns are not 100% free – they are a mixture of :
  1. Paid media (buying ads to kick it off and maintain visibility)
  2. Earned media (people sharing the idea)
  3. Paid content (Tailor made, high quality by advertiser) and
  4. Earned content (lower quality, consumer generated)

Viral campaigns should not always be measured by an increase in traffic to a corporate web site – a campaign can still be very successful via increased activity of views in Youtube or Vimeo channels, blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other less know social channels etc etc, and of course online and offline sales

By the way, I’m not on a horse….I’m on  a chair!

Posted by Rob Booth | Filed under: All, General, Media, Useful | 5 comments - read them or leave a reply

5 Responses to “Look at your man, now back to my blog!”

  • Pierre Côté says:

    great post.


    that is the new equation.

  • There’s no denying that the Old Spice was one of if not the biggest social media campaigns to date and very successful in an overall media point of view.

    As for Social Media I think its still too soon to call it a success. Yes Old Spice received a lot of attention and sales spiked and a lot of people to “LIKE’d” their Facebook page but I don’t think a campaign’s success = social media success. I see a lot of messages from Old Spice but not a lot of actual or real interaction with their fans.

    The way I see it being present in SM is not just about being there and having a LIKE button, its about building real communication and having real interactions with your fans and clients. You’re trying to build a good relationship and that needs to be nurtured. Everyone has that friend that pops into your life randomly every 3-6-9 months… they can be fun for a bit but they’ll never be your closest one, the one you share your real feelings and frustrations with.

    I think that we wont see the true potential of social media until brands and/or media agencies figure out that a social media presence needs to be constant/permanent presence and that real interactions need to happen.

    • Rob Booth says:

      Great points, Carlos – Old Spice is now ‘dancing’ with consumers in terms of their relationship with them, but it will take continued hard work to get that first kiss and ultimately that long term loving relationship with them !

  • Simma says:

    That pretty much sums it up.
    An idea can spread incredibly fast if it’s perceived as genuine content a subset of users (influceners, mass, etc) enjoy and is easily sharable.

    Dare I say, I’m gonna show this example to some university kids. It’s such a neat little package.

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