Old Spice Man is leaving his mark, and going viral. How manly!

Over the last couple of days we've been witness to a sea-change in social media--thanks to an ex-football player, a 72-year old brand, and a brilliantly creative, and strategic marketing team.

Here's how the Old Spice social media campaign worked:

On this Tuesday and Wednesday, the marketers behind the brand fielded questions to Old Spice Man (Mustafa) through Twitter messages and on Facebook. On a TV set in Portland Oregon, Mustafa, stood wrapped in a towel while four copywriters quickly scripted witty responses to the Tweets and messages. The New York Times reports that over two days, the brand uploaded about 185 videos, most about a minute long, to YouTube, including the actor responding to the actresses Alyssa Milano and Demi Moore and to George Stephanopoulos, the anchor of “Good Morning America,” where Mr. Mustafa subsequently was a guest on Thursday.

It seems that Old Spice has hit one out of the park with the ingenious "Smell like a man, man" campaign.

The follow-on ad from last year's effort featuring a "manly" ex-football player turned brand icon, Isaiah Mustafa has got him booked on the daily talk-show circuit, his ads are running frequently on TV (Old Spice spent $11 million+ last quarter, compared to $7.5 million for the entire 2009), he is now a social media phenom, and the parodies have started.

So what is this campaign so successful?  It appears to have all the fundamentals of a great marketing program:

  1. They did their research: and found that women purchased 70% of the shower product for their men. But men wanted to make sure they didn't smell "girly"
  2. The differentiated themselves from the competition: Axe body wash, who was outselling them significantly (in marketing) positioned their scents (which are pretty girly IMHO) as sex-magnets. Old Spice focused on making a man "smell like a man"
  3. They were try to their brand core: Again, the manly scent of Old Spice has been at its marketing core for over 70 years.
  4. They were extremely creative: The ads are witty, and the set design is so elaborately constructed that it plays to the male psyche of "how'd they build that" while satisfying the women with sex-appeal.
  5. The made the most of the media de rigueur--social marketing: After drawing 13 million viewers to their YouTube channel, Old Spice ramped up their traditional media buy, and created one of the most innovative Facebook and Twitter campaigns to date.
  6. And finally, they learned from testing. Old Spice has used wit and innovation before--with spots featuring Neil Patrick Harris, Bruce Campbell and others, but they capitalized on the one spot in the mix that seemed to hit a home run with viewers.

Old Spice's next step? Well, we hope they continue to exploit their brand re-birth program with more ingenious creative and media choices.

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