Assumptions kill creativity

In this guest post, Gual Barwell disagrees that the sales success of the Old Spice social media campaign was overstated.

Yesterday’s post from Cathie McGinn suggested the Old Spice campaign failed to connect with consumers. Based on the facts and figures, I disagree.

What Old Spice and Wieden + Kennedy has done and done phenomenally well is to create a franchise.  

Wieden + Kennedy created a compelling piece of content that was spreadable and connected with an incredibly large audience.

The original and many would argue the best incarnation of the campaign was ‘The Man your Man Could Smell Like’, the Old Spice ad which has already had 38m views on YouTube to-date. This original inception of the campaign has built equity in the Old Spice brand among consumers as an entertainer. As a result Old Spice has been able to create a highly engaged and regularly returning audience that are willing to come and explore their brand and products, on the whole negating the need for paid media. The Old Spice campaign and subsequent incarnations were engaging, interactive and generated a huge amount of buzz around the brand.

Let’s look at some simple impression data and statistics first. With JUST the Old Spice YouTube Channel receiving 256m views to date. From an earned media perspective and taking into account the projected average CPM for primetime TV in the US for 2012 is $39.84, this would calculate to an earned media total of $10m. Is that not a success in itself. No? Alright, lets consider that is just views on YouTube and does not take into account the media coverage and earned PR the campaign has generated. Coming immediately to mind is the ‘Old Spice Man’ appearing on the Ellen show which has an average of 2.74m daily viewers.

Old Spice accompanied the launch of the original campaign with a product promotion. Which, in my opinion doesn’t affect the success of the communication at all. I think the tie-in of a product discount as an incentive to drive sales and trial is a sensible way of ensuring value is generated from the awareness that the creative campaign created. Helping to generate trial and reappraisal of Old Spice’s products. In other words, the product promotion accompanied an engaging campaign that generated awareness among two key market segments. By creating an intrinsically viral campaign they connected with teenage boys (the consumers of the product) and by fronting it with a a charismatic and good looking man they attracted the attention of female grocery buyers (the purchaser). Repositioning Old Spice from relative insignificance to become largest selling body-wash both in volume and dollar terms.

It may remind some people of their 70 year old grandfather but, Old Spice has come a long way from just having an aftershave in their product portfolio. They now have a range of 81 products ranging from Deodorant, Body-wash and Fragrance. So with a diversification of product accompanied with innovations, Old Spice capitalised on a low base of awareness within their target markets to reinvigorate the brand by using creativity and innovative communications techniques.

The campaign did connect with the right audience and more. Bringing the brand back into people consciousness as a product worth considering and then topping that off with a sales promotion to encourage trial. Even if the product sales plateaued. Who cares? They plateaued when Old Spice for the first time in a long time could lay claim to a significant market share. As stated by the Old Spice brand manager, James Moorehead: “Old Spice is the number one male body wash and deodorant in both dollar and volume share,” at one point reaching sales growth levels of over 100% per month.

Old Spice should be lauded as an award winning and effective campaign. Demonstrating to clients and the industry that if creativity is at the forefront of your communications strategy, you have a much better chance of creating cut through and engagement. A good idea can come from anywhere, can go everywhere and influence everyone. God speed and be creative!

  • Gual Barwell is a senior creative strategist at Holler Sydney

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