Top ten ways your ads can s(m)ell like the Old Spice ads


There is no shortage of great posts written on the deserved and phenomenal success of the Old Spice social media campaign that followed their hilarious TV. But apart from a good laugh or ten, what can we get from this great demonstration of the marriage between traditional and social media. More importantly, what do we have to do, or how must we think, to give us all a chance at creating similar success with your brand? Well, let’s look at what Old Spice did.

1. LAUGH AT YOURSELF – Old Spice is a P&G brand. They’re not supposed to make funny social ads that become the benchmark for the industry. So how did they do it? Yes, they partnered with Wieden & Kennedy who are inspired, brilliant and consistently so, but they also gave their brand – along with men and women everywhere – licence to laugh at themselves. By doing so you make your brand human and likable – two powerful qualities in the social media ecosystem.

2. ASSUME WHAT YOU HAVE TO PROVE: Strategically, Wieden and Kennedy didn’t try to prove that Old Spice makes you smell better (assuming a “man” smells good). They took that as a given and had fun with the fact from there. That way the brand has already pre-sold what’s its trying to prove and engaged you emotionally on that basis.

3. LISTEN UP: Not content to be satisfied with the popularity of their TV ads or the number of hits they have on YouTube, Old Spice and Wieden & Kennedy actually listened to the reaction. What’s more they didn’t listen to what it said about them but rather what it said about their target audience. And by keeping that focus it was a small step to create customized video tweets that were tonally consistent with the whole campaign. The shift in focus is the most powerful revolution going on in marketing today.

4. GET PERSONAL: Remember how you feel when someone forgets you name? Or, better yet, when they remember it? That feeling is an opportunity. By creating personalized tweets Old Spice not only credited their community with a voice, they celebrated specific people within it. Those people were then compelled to share the Old Spice work again because of that recognition. Basic human nature and communication yet so refreshing from a brand.

5. HAVE SOME MANNERS – For a long time brands operated from the presumption that they were in control and perhaps they were right. Those days are over. And with that comes the obligation to get off your high horse (I couldn’t resist!) and be polite. That’s what Old Spice did when it said, ” Thank you”. If someone does something nice for you or says they enjoy your work, say thank you. Perhaps our mothers should be the new brand managers.

6. GO BACK FOR SECONDS: When your brand does connect with someone don’t run off to the next person. It’s like looking over someone’s shoulder when your talking to them. Instead, stay a while and toss about a little banter. That’s the power of grabbing someone’s attention in this over-saturated advertising world. Send them personalized tweets, a coupon, a discount or a tailor-made joke. In short, recognize you made a connection and value that opportunity.

7. REINVENT YOURSELF: We must all stop consciously or unconsciously defending how things have always been done. There’s no excuse now. Old Spice, a P&G brand is cool and viral and sexy (no less!). So think about your brand from scratch. Wake up your inner entrepreneur and look at the need you are filling and what your target market wants. And then burn your boats. If you don’t, your competitors are waiting in the wings to do it for you.

8. DEFY CONVENTIONAL LOGIC: You’re not supposed to use the same on camera talent and big budget production values on the web, let alone in tweets? Or are you? As we marketers try to stand out in this pea soup of content who’s to say anything is off limits. In this case the production value subconsciously demonstrated the importance of each twitterer to the brand. He or she deserved the very best from Old Spice  and this again was a tone and way of thinking consistent with the campaign. (BTW: Here’s how they shot the Old Spice tweets.)

9. KNOW WHEN TO LEAVE: Half the art of winning someone’s attention is to leave them wanting more, especially if you’re a brand. Viral success is so elusive it would be understandable for many brands to milk their success dry. But by leaving in a timely fashion, you leave the door open for even bigger expressions of the advertising campaign and ensure that your doting audience will come with you. (So let’s hope it was ‘a bientot’ rather than ‘au revoir’ from Isiah.)

10. FIND THE HUMAN IN THE TECHNOLOGY: If I had to sum it all up, I’d would repeat something I shared in my recent seminar at the Cannes Advertising Festival. We marketers have talked about “brand personality” for years, so it’s time for brands to act like we had one. Fortunately we are all innately qualified to steward them this this process. All we need is the gumption to do so.

So let’s take a look at what all the fuss was about. Here’s the personalized tweet sent to Perez Hilton to say thanks for his tweet about the Old Spice commercials.


It’s little wonder Wieden & Kennedy won the television Grand Prix at the Cannes International Advertising Festival this year and this social media campaign is only the cherry on the icing of the cake strapped to the back of a eight foot wing-spanned eagle soaring towards the sun at the moment of a eclispse. There’s no doubt it will become the social media marketing benchmark of the future as Mashable suggests.

But like any good crowdpleaser, the Old Spice man knew when to quit. So with tears all round, here is Sigh-siah’s (as the ladies call him)  heartfelt farewell to his millions of intimate internet friends. Kudos to you Old Spice man, and to your birthers, Wieden & Kennedy and Proctor & Gamble.

What’s your favorite Old Spice personalized tweet? What else do you think they go right?