‘Old Spice’ New Ideas: Video Marketing Done Right

Blast from the Past: Video Campaigns that really worked

‘Like all great things, this too must come to an end’ according to Isaiah Mustafa (aka the ‘Old Spice Guy’) upon reflecting over his reign over YouTube that came to an end in the summer of 2010. The video campaign that reached over 40 million views since its release was cooked up by marketing team Wieden+Kennedy and may even be seen as the first of viral videos that should be followed as a recipe for success.
Wieden + Kennedy have a reputation for designing unconventional campaigns, and the Old Spice ads were certainly unconventional in every way.

The initial video racked up over 5 million views in just 2 days, kicking up a frenzy of fans all over the world. The madness continued, with a follow-up video staring the same actor – followed by another 180 videos to promote the brand. Yes, 180. The videos were personal responses from Mustafa, ‘The Most Interesting Man in the World 2.0’ to the general public and celebrities alike, resulting in a huge boom in brand recognition.

Make your man smell like a man

The character was clearly loved by both men and women – men aren’t threatened by him and women fancy him, widening the prospective audience. The videos include him riding a horse (“I’m on a horse”) ,’ catching a “fresh water fish” and the hunk is even shown holding an oyster containing tickets to “that thing you love’” which then of course melts into diamonds. They’re quick, funny and surprising – you keep guessing what he’s going to do next, and usually you’re wrong.

The response videos also play a crucial part – by carefully choosing who they responded to and by embedding the responses through YouTube rather than tweeting back and forth, meant the video was seen, shared, liked and commented on by the maximum amount of people possible. The campaign created video responses for celebrities – from Demi Moore to Ellen Degeneres – as well as the general public.

“We’ve gone literally up and down the levels of people from those with millions of followers down to people with hardly any followers. And that’s a really important part of the mix”, said Wieden’s global interactive creative director Iain Tait in an interview with The Fast Company. “We’re working in collaboration with the creative team that are there to pick out the messages that: 1. Have creative opportunity to produce amazing content; or 2. Have the ability to then embed themselves in an interesting or virally-relevant community.”

Viral Success

According to Visible Measures, the custom-made ‘Old Spice Responses’ is one of the fastest-growing online campaigns ever made. The videos at this time were new, original and gifted everyone a piece of the ‘Old Spice Guy’ without ruining the allure and mystery of the character. A clever way to engage an audience.

One thing that is interesting about this particular campaign is the swirling rumours that the viral video success didn’t completely translate into product sale success. However this isn’t exactly correct. WARC reported that there was a drop of 7% in sales, although this referred to the particular Old Spice ‘Red Zone After Hours’ product only. Co-founder Nielsen released data that showed the sales of the Old Spice Body Wash range as a whole had risen by 55% in the first three months and by 107% in the first month alone since the video was originally uploaded.

Instead of following previous trends of popularity based on groups huddled around the screen in shock, the Old Spice campaign is funny, surprising, easy and instead has a character that people actually like. People will show their friends not because of disbelief, but because they think this guy is funny and cool. The custom-made responses catapulted this, allowing people to not only share the ‘Old Spice Guy’ but a part of the whole Old Spice experience.


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