Recap of a Successful Social Media Campaign


For many of us, there was clearly something special about Old Spice’s “Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign from the first time we laid eyes on it. Overnight, the commercial became the “have you seen it?” talk of households, with those who had missed it rushing to YouTube to see what the fuss was about. Cheesy, ridiculous situations paired with a deliciously deadpan performance by the shirtless Mustafa, and culimnating with a truly absurd line (“I’m on a horse”), made this commercial stand out in multiple ways. And for many of us, it was the first introduction we had to the bold, bright red re-branded product packaging that departed significantly from the cream-colored, nautical-themed predecessors that graced our father’s medicine cabinets.

Later, as marketers rushed to analyze this successful campaign, it also became clear that it was one of the few men’s product campaigns to directly market to women—a demographic that is clearly supported as an influential market when it comes to making decisions about what fellas are placing in their showers.

An article written by Paul Maccabee in today’s Star Tribune, “Beyond the ‘Man your man could smell like’: Marketing lessons from Old Spice’s online video campaign” focuses much of the attention, however, on what the campaign achieved in terms of viral marketing via social media. Stemming from its popularity on YouTube, the Mustafa videos—and the Old Spice campaign—rapidly gained momentum on Facebook and Twitter, increasing the reach of the ads, which originally aired during the Superbowl and on American Idol. Here’s a paraphrased summary of what the article listed as “what companies learn from what Mustafa called a ‘life-altering, society-changing’ interactive campaign”:

  • Allow the campaign to evolve online. For Old Spice, it meant allowing others to recreate/mock the commercials in copycat clips on YouTube, and ignoring hundreds of “dislike” ratings in favor of tens of thousands of “likes”. In social media, it’s pointless to try to maintain control once the public has adopted it.
  • Don’t assume that social media means inexpensive. The creative, production, and spokesman fees for Old Spice were well up there for the spots. But the pay-off was significant: a 107% increase in sales of their body wash.
  • Don’t confuse social media as a strategy. As the article points out, it’s one of many media channels, and requires exceptional creative if it is to be a viral success.
  • Focus on the funny. The article suggests that companies must be willing to poke fun at themselves in order to be widely adopted by viewers online.
  • Branch out into other social media channels. One of the most compelling parts of this campaign, in my opinion, was the Twitter Q & A sessions with Mustafa—complete with video responses to Twitter questions.
  • Trust your agency. I thought this was a good point by the writer. The more “out there” the idea, the less comfortable a company is likely to feel about it, yet the more likely it is that it will go viral. Trust those who aren’t so close to your company to propose a concept that could work.
  • Stay true to your brand. Even if a social media campaign is a like a quirky cousin to your main brand, the family resemblance, so to speak, should still be there.


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