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Human Potential in the Age of Exponential Tech

Well Played: @oldspice wins the hearts and minds of the web

Ok I really should be packing for my trip tomorrow, but I am getting such a kick out of these videos that I couldn’t resist a quick tip of my hat to one of the funniest social media campaigns to come along in a while.

Step 1: Establish Familiarity Through Series of Hilarious Commercials

It all began with the Old Spice Guy (now referred to as O.S.G.) commercials showing women “The Man Your Man Can Smell like:”

and finally the most recent:

Step 2: Personalized Engagement to fans and Targeted Influencers

In the last few days, the O.S.G has been responding to fan’s tweets with personalized videos. In particular, he has been targeting celebrities including Alyssa Milano, Kevin Rose and blogger Perez Hilton.


To date there are over 100 videos varying in length (from 30 seconds to about two minutes) answering all types of questions. Mashable recently reported that the O.S.G even helped someone propose to their girlfriends. (She said yes.) And who could resist with this video?

Digital Media Lessons:

1) Content is still king.

The videos are creative, funny and compelling to watch. By providing unpredictable answers, users are entertained enough to watch several of the videos giving Old Spice more exposure and brand awareness.

2) Limited availability = increased frenzy of response

Everyone understood that it takes time and effort to produce personalized videos. For us non-celebrities, to get O.S.G’s attention requires something witty and clever. I’ve noticed several tweets going by of questions and comments aimed at O.S.G, that made me laugh out loud. This increases the creative quality of the entire campaign and gets people interacting with the brand even if they don’t get a personalized response.

3) Evolution of Ego-Baiting Influencers: The Video Stage

In our culture of celebrity endorsement, getting the thumbs up can go a long. O.S.G. focused personalized responses for several highly visible twitter users. In the case of actress Alyssa Milano, the O.S.G. created two videos for her, both of which were re-tweeted to her +900,000 followers. At the time of this post there were already 300 RTs.

Ego-Baiting is a common practice on the web. Why? Because it works. Most people who are in this space (myself included) have Google Alerts and other methods to monitor when something is written about us. If I see a blog post where someone has mentioned my name, I always go and check it out. I think it’s standard procedure in today’s age of “personal brand management.”

While this has usually been done via text based means (twitter/blogs, etc.) it’s interesting to see the method evolved to now include videos. Customized video responses that address you personally are impossible to resist and share.

4) Supports Existing Media Channels

One of my favorite aspects of this campaign was the seamless way the social media initiatives support the traditional media channel, namely the television commercial. The campaign didn’t assume that social media would replace what they were already doing, but found complementary ways to support their goal of increasing brand awareness and exposure. Strategically, this was flawlessly executed.  To date the original old spice commercial has more than 12 million views on the Old Spice YouTube Channel.

Some thoughts:

1) Limited Scalability:

I wonder how long the O.S.G can keep this up? I’m interested to see how many videos are created in total and how many days this campaign runs. While still probably cheaper then a television ad placed during prime time, I wonder how much it costs to have an Actor respond to these tweets on an ongoing basis.

2) Can it be replicated?

This campaign benefits from being the first one to engage consumers in this way. I do believe these types of campaigns can be replicated, as long as the content is funny and engaging. However, eventually it will reach a point where consumers get bored. How many products can we tolerate sending us personalized messages?

3) O.S.C and future brand association AKA Miley Cyrus Syndrome

The O.S.C has now become firmly entrenched in our minds as representing the Old Spice brand. I wonder if they are planning on keeping him as a regular fixture for the time being, or if this is a limited time engagement. I feel that this might be the kind of thing that sticks to actors reputation. He will forever be known as the Old Spice Guy. Which means that in the future, if he does anything shady it will be indirectly associated with the Old Spice brand.

For example, in May, D.C. Douglas, Geiko’s voice spokesperson, made an inappropriate (though funny) call to the Tea Party. The story was picked up by the news, and the Geiko brand was constantly mentioned, even though the actor didn’t actually make a physical appearance in any of the commercials.  I call this Miley Cyrus Syndrome which is what happens when you box a person within the two dimensional parameters of a brand.

I’ve emailed Proctor and Gamble some questions and we’ll see if they get back to me.

Ps: Since I’ve started drafting this post there are 1682 additional tweets referencing @oldspice.

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