What the Old Spice Guy Videos Lacked: Real Messaging

OPEN HOME MEDICINE CABINET.  OPEN HOME MEDICINE CABINET OVER THE COUNTER MEDSBuzz … Buzz … Buzz. What happened to sales results?

An article late last week on BNET noted that the hilarious viral videos that Old Spice put out recently in tandem with ad/marketing agency Wieden + Kennedy, showcasing The Old Spice Guy (former NFL player Isaiah Mustafa) responding to celebrity and fan tweets, e-mails and other social messages to instantly create one-hit wonder viral videos actually did very, very little in the way of boosting Old Spice’s sagging year-over-year sales.

From Brandweek:

For instance, it was none other than P&G that picked up the Film Grand Prix this year for Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” TV spot from Wieden + Kennedy. There is little doubt about the viral hit’s popularity. Launched in February, the official version has racked up nearly 12.2 million YouTube views.

But sales of the featured product—Red Zone After Hours Body Wash—aren’t necessarily tracking with that consumer appeal: In the 52 weeks ended June 13, sales of the brand have dropped 7 percent according to SymphonyIRI.

(NB: Some media outlets reported last week that Old Spice body wash sales jumped 107 percent in the past month, but that figure comes directly from a P&G spokesperson in a PRWeek article, and has not been qualified by outside sources or analysts. And as B.L. Ochman rightly points out, a sales increase in the past month means little – in this case – considering this campaign is less than two weeks old.)

Twelve million impressions. Pretty damn good, but at the end of the day, if it’s not selling the product long term, over a prolonged period of months and years, and it’s only marginally moving the brand-affinity needle, what good did this campaign really do for Old Spice?

It got the brand’s name back out in the market and probably introduced Old Spice to a generation of consumers who only thought their 75-year-old grandfather used Old Spice (the word “Old” in the brand’s name doesn’t help matters much in that regard, as Lindsay Robertson of Jezebel.com points out), but the fact remains that the online video ads, no matter how successfully they generated social buzz, had little to no actual messaging to them to help shape consumers’ feelings and affinity toward the product. That is where this campaign faltered.

Because all the social buzz in the world doesn’t change the fact that the almighty dollar still rules when it comes to consumer spending. Yes, we’re getting closer to the point where virtual goods and virtual currencies will begin to influence how consumers shop within social networks, and perhaps this social campaign should have incorporated some type of virtual goods platform to immediately engage consumers to buy the product while viewing the videos, but if your messaging isn’t there, the sales will likely not maintain the sudden boost they get from the initial campaign because consumers don’t know why they should feel inclined to purchase your product.

And it’s becoming quite obvious that despite how wildly successful these videos became, they did little to change consumers’ perception of Old Spice as an old, outdated brand, not worth the time or money to become a spending fan of the product.

And at the end of the day, those are really the only fans that matter: ones who spend money on your brand—whether within Facebook, on your website after being directed from a tweet or in an actual store.

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