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Bringing the brand to life

December 27, 2011

The Old Spice Guy, ‘the man your man could smell like’ is the main character in one of the most successful interactive marketing campaigns of the past years (see results below). The success-factors are mainly in the fun and interactivity, the real-time personal responses, and the fact that the campaign turned so viral so fast. More and more companies are trying to find ways to make their brand more interactive, accessible and ‘humanlike’. In order to attract and retain attention, it is crucial that brands stop sending one-way messages and start interacting. Interacting can be done in many different ways: from online marketing campaigns to full-blown integrated dialogues in co-creation practices or communities.

All of this will contribute to creating a strong brand  ‘personality’, which consists of associations that consumers have as a result of the brands’ actions and interactions. When consumers have strong positive associations with a brand they are more likely to develop a deep brand connection and loyalty. Some brands help consumers establish ‘personality’ associations by putting forward interactive brand characters or ‘faces’. Old Spice is a great example of a brand that completely revived its image by humanising it and making it interact with fans and followers. The brand never caught my attention before and my image of it was always that of a dull and very old-fashioned brand that elderly men bought out of sheer habit (no offence). Now I am actually becoming a fan and follower of Old Spice and I’d even consider trying the products when I have the chance.

Interaction and co-creation of messages

Let’s have a closer look at the Old Spice campaign and results:


  • Februari 2010: Introduction of Isaiah Mustafa as the Old Spice Guy in some very popular and award-winning tv-commercials (Feb 2010 commercial with now almost 38 million views on YouTube, June 2010 commercial with over 21 million views)
  • June 2010: The popularity of Isaiah makes the brand decide  to open up an interactive Facebook account and Twitter account. People can submit a question or a challenge and the Old Spice Guy answers these via a personalised video message or tweet. Old Spice produced 180 videos in less than 2 days, generating a lot of buzz. (see infographic)


  • June 2011: Rivalry is cooked up when an new Old Spice Guy Fabio enters the scene and challenges the Old Spice Guy Isaiah to an online duel (this video challenge got 2 millions views in 2 days). Resulting in an online battle fought out through video messages where both guys act out challenges sent in by followers and fans via Twitter.

According to Old Spice, campaign highlights as of August included (source):

– A total of 169 unique videos, which attracted over 22 million views in their first seven days of exposure. (That’s fewer than the 35 million views the initial campaign videos racked up in five days in 2010.)- “Challenge” from New Old Spice Guy Fabio was the #7 most viewed video of the week on YouTube the week the campaign ran, amassing 3 million views. The second-most-popular video, “Challenge Accepted,” received 1.2 million views.

– Old Spice and New Old Spice Guy Fabio held the #1 and #4 spots for most viewed channels for the month on YouTube.

– The videos attracted more than 53,000 comments on YouTube, and 500,000 likes, dislikes and votes (through annotations) on the video sharing site

– 100,000 brand mentions through Old Spice-owned channels and Reddit, including 64,000 on Twitter.

– 68,000 new Facebook fans, friends and subscribers to Old Spice channels.

  • Dec 2011: MANtaclaus. In a video message The Old Spice Guy promises to buy gifts for all 7 billion people on Earth, one at a time. He starts by sending gifts to 25 of his closest Internet friends and again manages to generate great buzz with his online conversations..

Key learnings:

  1. Make sure the brands ‘face’ is likable and accessible (quite the challenge here)
  2. Target influential people (that act as brand ambassadors and take the message further)
  3. Make content share-able
  4. Empower fans by letting them participate
  5. Respond to them fast
  6. Make it fun, don’t be too serious and protective
  7. Make it relevant: people will share interesting or fun messages
  8. Establish and maintain a dialogue online, even after the campaign ends

Risks worth taking:

  1. Opening up the conversation by using public channels
  2. Risks of negative W-O-M and an online conversation that is out of your control
  3. Risks of abuse and offensive messages on Twitter or YouTube
  4. Risks of responding fast: waiting too long will make the response ‘safe’ but irrelevant

The role of a brand ‘face’

The campaign was a great success, but can Old Spice take brand-consumer interactions to the next level? To keep consumers intrinsically involved you’d have to deepen the conversation at some point, can The Old Spice Guy become a conversation partner? Furthermore, the idea of giving the brand a ‘face’ and a voice raises several questions. As every consumer is different and gives their own meaning to a brand, how do you make sure your brand’s face possesses the traits that appeal to the majority of them? And will this ‘face’ become responsible in the consumers’ eyes for running the brand? To what extent will the ‘face’ be judged on a personal level? Will the brands actual products become of less importance in the brand equity equation? And what if this ‘face’ says or does the wrong thing, will the brand take the fall or could you just replace it?

Quite some challenges here I would say and I will surely keep track of Old Spice to see how they take their campaigns to the next level!
Do you also have comments or thoughts on this? Please post, I am curious to hear them!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 6, 2012 8:25 pm

    Dag Joyce,
    Leuke artikelen over cocreatie, Een van mijn studenten wees naar je artikel op Frankwatching. Ik vond het erg goed een onderbouwde visie aan te treffen.
    Nu ben ik zelf een liefhebber van de Social Media case Old Spice. Ik vind de youtube movies super. En vergeet ook alle parodieen niet. Vandaar dat ik even reageer.
    In eerste instantie dacht ik zelf ook dat de omzet in Old Spice omhoog gegaan is vanwege de social media. Maar dat ligt toch iets genuanceerder. Tegelijkertijd met de socialmedia case is er een coupon korting actie gehouden. Deze heeft de omzet ook omhoog gestuwd.
    Misschien nog wel meer dan de social media case. In Adage een duidelijk artikel hierover.

    Wieden en Kennedy hebben er een Effie mee gewonnen. (De cijfers van de coupon actie worden om vertrouwelijkheidsredenen niet gepublieerd!!)

    De relatie naamsbekendheid, imago, -> kopen Old Spice ligt toch wat ingewikkelder.
    De relatie kortingscoupon -> kopen is heel duidelijk, korte termijn omzet winnen. Ten koste van het merkimago.

  2. January 9, 2012 11:14 am

    Beste Sander,

    Bedankt voor je opmerking en aanvulling!
    Ik heb me vooral gefocused op de merk-conversaties en virale buzz, en die resultaten zijn wel erg indrukwekkend! De link naar verkoopcijfers blijft dus dubieus als ik zo jouw opmerking leest… Hopelijk ontdekken we hier binnenkort meer over!

  3. Johna172 permalink
    July 13, 2014 12:36 am

    I do consider all the ideas you’ve presented on your post. They’re really convincing and can certainly work. Still, the posts are very brief for novices. May just you please extend them a little from next time? Thanks for the post. agddgbefkdge

    • July 14, 2014 8:37 am

      Thanks for the comments Johna, I will take it into account. However most people tend to prefer brief articles on the Web 🙂 I do usually provide websites or articles for references. Hope that helps you!


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