Extreme Makeover: Old Spice Edition

Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” ad campaign has made a big splash online, but the question Old Spice and its agency, Wieden + Kennedy, face is whether body wash sales have grown.

Over a seven-day span in July, Old Spice uploaded over 180 YouTube videos in which newfound star, actor Isaiah “The Old Spice Guy” Mustafa, answered user-submitted questions from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The social media campaign was a smash hit and AdWeek called it the “fastest-growing and most popular interactive campaign in history.”
After weeks of “Did it work?” from ad professionals, Wieden + Kennedy (W+K), released a case study claiming sales of Old Spice Body Wash have increased a whopping 107% in the last month.

As you watch the video, keep in mind that it was produced by the agency – which no doubt gave it the best possible spin. However, the results presented at the conclusion of the video are compelling.

Click here to watch the W+K video.

According W + K, the Old Spice response videos had over 40 million YouTube views during the weeklong period in July, and there have been over 125.5 million total upload views for the channel (which includes the original TV ads). The company also claims that Old Spice accounted for 75 percent of conversations in the body wash category in the first three months of 2010—half of which manifested from women, which clearly reflects which gender the ads have been targeting.

“We had been talking to guys for 70 years,” says James Moorhead, brand manager of Old Spice. “This campaign took a slightly different twist. We wanted to start a dialogue between men and women and boyfriends and girlfriends.”

That’s right, Old Spice, once (and possibly, still) revered as “grandpa’s brand,” and a true man’s product, is aiming for the audience that counts Secret and L’Oreal among its favorites. W+K points to figures citing women as making a strong majority of all body wash sales. Piquing interest with shirtless Mustafa, Old Spice instructs women on what their men should smell like, betting that its product will end up in bathrooms before long.

The ads also attempt to serve as a tutorial for single men, providing them an idea of what women look for in a scent.

It should come as no surprise given the resounding popularity of the initiative that Old Spice has seen a bump in sales. However, it’s still too soon to gauge the success of the campaign. Depending on how you look at it, “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign has either been a resounding success or an evidence that large-scale social media campaigns don’t guarantee long-term dividends.

While W+K’s video and initial Old Spice sales figures are undoubtedly impressive, personally, I’d like to check back in six months once the campaign’s initial luster wears off. Given its wide-reaching impact, this could be the biggest measuring stick yet for examining sales as a byproduct of social media. What might result is a clearer understanding of where social media fits into the business world.

By Mike Fossano

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