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Old Spice’s Brand Manager speaks

Last week my PRSSA chapter and I heard James Moorhead, the Brand Manager of Old Spice speak about the success of their recent campaign.

Before I dive into his lecture, I will preface it to a brief interaction that took place beforehand. I entered the room, thinking I would be surrounded by fellow PRSSAers, but instead I was greeted by my two close friends. Surprised, I asked my friends Emily and Katie why they would be interested in learning about Old Spice’s campaign?

Emily, a Film/TV major and Business Admin minor, wanted to hear the logistics of the filming process, quickly creating content to steam online. Katie, a Business Administration major, wanted to hear about Old Spice’s campaign plan and budget. While I, a PR major, wanted to learn more about their social media campaign and strengthening relationships with consumers through engagement and content creation. It was physical proof that professions overlap and as students, we need to have a variety of interests to succeed.

Resurrecting Old Spice’s Brand Image:

Old Spice had the idea of doing viral marketing, but knew they couldn’t just plan on something to go viral. Old Spice needed to work on putting content in relevant spaces and working on Old Spice’s engagement. Old Spice’s campaign wasn’t a viral story, but an engagement story.

The Old Spices brand purpose is to “help young guys navigate the seas of manhood”, something the brand stuck true throughout the whole process. Their audience consists of “digital couch potatoes” a.k.a. men surfing the internet looking for fun and original content they can share with their friends. Additionally, Old Spice realized that sixty percentage of the purchases are being made by girlfriends or wives.

How can Old Spice create a campaign to target women shoppers and internet savy men?

Competitors include Axe’s sex in a bottle or Dove for Men threatening Old Spice’s existence. Plus, the word “Old” often invokes the idea of your grandfather’s scent. How could Old Spice provoke conversations between couples and create overnight national brand awareness?

“Smell like a man” is the idea of celebrating your manly heritage. Old Spice didn’t want to create a new product, but celebrate their strengthes. Women love seeing athletic naked men in humorous costumes, speaking directly to their gender and generation.

Social Media:

Old Spice couldn’t afford to air a SuperBowl commercial, so they worked around it. They bought keywords for superbowl commercials and terms, showcased the video with Facebook and Youtube fans before and after the Superbowl. They banked on the idea that most people like to search the internet before and after the actual game to watch Superbowl commercials. For example, someone could type “superbowl commercials 2010” and the Old Spice “smell like a man” video popped up in the top searches. This was so successful, NBC’s day after recap included Old Spice in the best Superbowl Ads (and they didn’t even air it during the game!).

Talking to Women:

The video speaks to the purchaser instead of the end user. By flipping perspective they were able to dually target their audience. Utilizing Valentine’s Day, a high engagement sphere  for women buyers, Old Spice went into new adult spaces to target women. Working with Ellen de Generes, Oprah, The Office, Valentine’s Day and The Today Show all helped stimulate women’s conversations and word-of-mouth marketing.

Paid vs. Earned Advertising:

Instead of buying advertising space or time, Old Spice earned their positive coverage through consumer engagement and content creation. Isiah Mustafa’s story as a ex-professional football athlete, failed business man helped build his success story. The audience felt a connection to the “smell like a man” campaign.

Round Two: More Successful Sequel

Mr. Moorhead was determined to play upon Old Spice’s success by creating an interactive second leg of the “smell like a man campaign.”  They wanted to continue the story, but on a intimate response social engagement level.

He described the procession line of his team to quickly produce 200 personal videos to have a 1-1 conversation with consumers. First he had a few people scanning the social media channels to see if people had written funny questions or comments to Old Spice, then checking to see if they had a lot of followers. Next they handed that question or comment to a team of writers to quickly create a 20-60 second response. Then they put that script on a teleprompter and had Isiah Mustafa read it once, then film it. The footage was quickly sent to a sound/light editor then published on YouTube.

Instant Success:

Videos sent to celebrities like Ellen deGeneres and Alyssa Milano were instantly sent to their thousands of followers. But more importantly, 70% of  responses were sent to average individuals with strong Twitter followers/social influences.

Alyssa Milano responded by creating her own video, in her bathroom, in a towel. Political corresspondent George Stephanolopis wrote about it, soon spreading coverage into the entertainment and political sphere.

A man asked Old Spice to propose to his girlfriend, after uploading a sexy Isiah proposing, the girlfriend said yes!

The Old Spice videos beat Obama’s victory, Bush Dodges Shoes and Susan Boyle for most popular viral video. The Old Spice Channel beat the “Twilight” movie channel for most popular YouTube views.

For the Future:

Now that Old Spice has established strong relationships with key social influences, they will continue to strengthen those relationships for future campaigns. Old Spice needs to continue to integrate their beliefs into a interactive social conversation. By knowing the digital landscape and understanding relationships, they made their campaign personal.

Tricky Situations: What would you do?

Maurice Rahmey asked Mr. Moorhead a valid and ethical question. Mr. Moorhead briefly touched on Alyssa Milano’s vast influence and her response video. In her actual video, she asked Old Spice to donate $100,000 to the victims of the Katrina Hurricane. Instead Old Spice worked with Alyssa Milano to pick a men’s charity in New Orleans.

Why did Old Spice not follow her requests? And why did Old Spice not promote their donation like the rest of the campaign?

Mr. Moorhead said Old Spice needed to remain true to their brand’s core messages: “helping young guys navigate the seas of manhood.” Also, since the media was hyper-engaged, just waiting to prounce if Old Spice made a mistake. Old Spice didn’t want the celebrity influencers to take the brand hostage, controlling their every move. B&G (Old Spice’s parent company) also donates to the oil spill clean up.

Overall, I’m still puzzled if Old Spice made the right move. I understand their reasoning, but I do feel it would have been a key opportunity to push their brand’s engagement to higher levels.

Brand Loyalty:

Hearing Mr. Moorhead speak passionately about his personal dedication to the brand, continues to provide inspiration that I will end up with a client and a company that I feel a personal connection to.


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