The Old Spice Guy is Clever, But…

[youtube][/youtube]“Look at your man. Now look at me.  Now look back at him.  Now back at me.  Sadly, he isn’t me…”  Old Spice body wash has put together perhaps the most talked about ad campaign of the year.  The campaign, starring Isiah Mustafa as an over the top parody of the superconfident manly-man has been a hit and has spawned a fantastic viral campaign, particularly after the brand took things up a notch by having the Old Spice guy respond to hundreds of questions from public in a series of YouTube videos.

So the campaign’s been lauded by marketers and the press.  It’s getting lots of buzz.  Gone viral.  Won awards.

But has it worked?

There has been suggestions that sales for Old Spice red zone body wash, the product featured in the ads, have GONE DOWN 7%! (note: other sources have suggested that sales of Old Spice products are up overall)

For all of the cute, clever, ingenious ideas that you may promote, it’s critical to remember that the goal of marketing is to grow your business.

At the local Addy awards some years ago, I remember looking at a website, the recipient of an award, where you navigated the page using a crazy floating fisheye lens.  It was the single most ridiculous site I’ve ever seen and I have no clue how anyone would use it.  But there it was, taking top honors.

There is a risk when you get a promotion rolling that’s incredibly clever and witty that you’ll lose track of what really matters – does it work?

So look at that shiny trophy.  Now look at the bottom line.  Now back at the trophy.  Now back at the bottom line.  Sadly, the trophy isn’t contributing to your bottom line…

Turns out that the bottom line is veeeeery sexy.

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Ben Dillon

About Ben Dillon

Ben’s a big picture type of guy. He loves sharing new ideas in digital marketing, keeping a watchful eye on healthcare industry trends and seeing how it all intersects. A sought-after speaker, writer, blogger and current SHSMD board member, Ben’s an influential voice in healthcare marketing, helping organizations across the country embrace online strategies to engage health consumers. Combine his industry savvy with his background in software development and you can see why he’s also an important member of Geonetric’s software team, ensuring our content management system stays a step ahead of market needs. Ben holds a master’s degree in eBusiness and strategic management from the University of Iowa and a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from the University of Michigan. When he’s not traveling and evangelizing, Ben enjoys cooking with his family and playing the Big House with the University of Michigan Alumni marching band.

5 thoughts on “The Old Spice Guy is Clever, But…

  1. Ben, I just heard the number 107% bandied about earlier today. The statistics quoted were that they’d been losing 7-9% per year, but that body wash sales since the campaign are up 107%.


    I think even if sales don’t increase markedly now, they’ve accomplished something extremely difficult — they’ve taken an Old Fogey of a brand and made it hip and modern. They allowed Mustafa to talk candidly about the campaign during interviews, which is also a more contemporary approach, and moved their brand image so far that even their Bruce Campbell spots seem quaint and dated now. I’m impressed.

    I agree that their site is atrocious, but their presence on other sites is impressive. They’ve been feeding a steady stream of witty quips and slogans through Facebook and Twitter for some time now, and it’s made a fan of me even though I’m allergic to perfumes and may never buy their products. But I’ll link those posts and videos to my friends, many of whom *may* buy the products in the future.

    As marketers, we all know that consumers require multiple exposures before they identify with a brand. I wouldn’t be surprised to see sales grow incrementally if they keep up the good work. Dove did something similar for Unilever after the launch of their Campaign for Real Beauty.

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  3. I’d argue that advertising isn’t always about immediate ROI, and this is a perfect example. When is the last time a men’s body wash commercial was the rage at the water cooler? Do you ever remember so many articles, blogs & social media mentions about men’s body odor products? Suddenly, Old Spice is hip and cool. Yes, the same Old Spice brand your dad and grandfather used.

    The brand awareness from this campaign is unbelievable. Everyone is talking about it. Granted, not everyone is running out for new deodorant, but the next time you need a new stick, you’ll recognize Old Spice Red Zone.

    Hospitals advertise in much the same way, completely ignoring ROI for the most part. Just like you may not need a new stick of deodorant today, you probably don’t need an ER either. But last week I saw about 10 billboards for hospital ERs. Those hospitals don’t expect patients to respond to the billboard right away, but hope their brand is top-of-mind when you’re in need of an ER.

    Do you remember Old Spice’s last ad campaign? I sure don’t, and that speaks volumes.

    I’d love to see a hospital take a chance with a really creative ad campaign. Do something out of the ordinary…buzzworthy.

  4. I agree. Not all advertising is done with the goal of immediately selling more stuff. In the case of a hospital, the goal may be awareness or brand perception.

    The point is that there should be a goal and that goal should be measurable. For consumer packages goods brands like Old Spice, that goal would absolutely be to see short-term improvement in market share percentages and absolute sales. I’m happy that it turns out that the campaign is working for them. When I’d heard initial (apparently misinformed) reports that it was not yielding sales, I couldn’t resist.

    If the cycle time is too long to measure to ROI, then a measure of mindshare might be appropriate. The point is to have goals and measure your success against those goals and not against the cleverness of the campaign.

    I think back to that anti-littering campaign from way back with the American Indian crying. It was a memorable campaign, but (at least according to one of my marketing professors) it subliminally told people that everyone was littering and that made it OK. Net result – no change in littering. But the campaign was memorable and won awards.

    Oh, and the last campaign for men’s body wash that was buzz-worthy? Axe. They made the category cool and were rewarded with big sales. Old Spice is playing catch-up even if they are doing it well.

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