Old Spice Commands the Web

I am positively giddy with excitement about the implications of the command social media performance this week by the super-suave Isaiah Mustafa and the Old Spice digital and creative team. They produced 160 personalized videos in 48 hours as the viral online extension of their award-winning manmercials. As a result, Old Spice’s Twitter account acquired tens of thousands of new followers and The Old Spice YouTube channels have been viewed over 58 million times. Without a doubt, the Old Spice social media invasion was not only brave, but has seriously raised the bar on what it now means to create buzz and human-time engagement on the web.

What came off as an easy and breezy, dare I say organic execution on social media was undoubtedly a vast and deliberate production, orchestrated by dozens of Wieden + Kennedy writers, art directors, producers, editors and social media strategists, not to mention the camera and lighting crew, teleprompter worker person, etc. I can imagine the studio in Portland might have resembled Cape Canaveral when NASA readies to launch a shuttle into space.

The team averaged around 7 minutes to make each video, and released several videos per hour, responding in what felt like real-time to fans, stars and internet celebrities from Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, blogs and more. Check out the top 10 hottest videos here. Beyond the sheer creative talent at Weiden + Kennedy, there also had to be a sizeable creative and digital budget to support the production of so many well-lit commercials, not including Mustafa’s compensation (he is so handsome and clever he should ask for a raise anyway).

In an interview, the head of Digital for Weiden + Kennedy said that the digital push began with the notion of the character responding to people about the TV commercials. He said, “We knew there was a massive love for this guy and what people wanted was to be in the shower with him. So that’s where we started from.” The agency decided to really center the push around YouTube and Twitter. YouTube hosted the videos, while Twitter provided the bulk of the distribution.

The team made savvy moves. They activated influencers by pre-producing videos for people such as Perez Hilton, 4chan, and AdFreak, posting them on their blogs and @replying to them on Twitter. They also activated communities such as DIGG and Reddit. For example, they knew that Digg Founder Kevin Rose was sick so they made a get-well video for him and posted it on Digg with the title “Get Well, Kevin Rose! The video became the top content on Digg with over 5,000 Diggs. They even created a call for comments on Reddit and posted a time-stamped picture of Isaiah saying Hi to Reddit. And they bought a Twitter ad campaign to feature the push as a trending topic.

All of these tactics combined helped the Old Spice brand activate large communities and drum up buzz before they had even rolled out 10 videos. The social media team then scoured the Web for comments related to the campaign and fed the ones that were either funny or from interesting sources to the creatives, who determined which would make good fodder for the videos. It was clearly all a big commercial, but kudos to the creatives for being tongue-in-cheek and for talking about the use of Old Spice in a way that felt light hearted and fun. Mustafa’s baritone voice and convoluted wordplay made for such entertaining delivery. He even made us laugh and cry with this video to his daughter who posed a question to him on Twitter.

I don’t know if this campaign will help sell more Old Spice, but I do know that I no longer think of Old Spice as a Fuddy-Duddy brand. Smells like success to me!

Thank you, Old Spice and Wieden + Kennedy, for spicing up the viral marketing landscape.