An Open Letter to Old Spice

Dear Old Spice,

I just want to say that I love you.

Old Spice Guy

Not in a romantic way, but in a way that I have the utmost respect for your ability to take a concept and run with it as far as you can. Your “guy on a horse” campaign premiered to fantastic reviews a few months back, and now you’ve done it again with a one-take masterpiece that once again features the swarthy and muscley Isaiah Mustafah (aka “the man your man could smell like”), and I am as impressed now as I was when I saw the first spot. Nay, I am MORE impressed with this spot.

You’ve proved to a relatively hard-to-impress demographic that your brand understands them, and you appreciate them. I appreciate that, Old Spice. I appreciate your humor and your candor with your audience, and your uncompromising willingness to engage your followers. You stepped up to the big boy table today, though, Old Spice. You stepped up and grabbed a hunk of meat and said, “this belongs to me, no one else can touch it,” and everyone else at the table paid attention because that was something no one had done before.

People were talking about your commercials. You paid attention and let them know you were paying attention by responding to their questions and comments. But you didn’t just say, “hey, thanks for the comment!” or, “great! Glad you love our products, buy some more!” No, you responded in a creative, efficient, and strategic way.

Creative 

Your ad agency, W+K, must be jumping up and down right now at how clever they are. Someone over there is hopefully sitting pretty with a nice little bonus in his pocket for dreaming up the idea to respond to tweets, blog posts and comments with short, hilarious videos featuring Mr. Muscles himself clad in only a towel. Your writers are geniuses because they never faltered with keeping the brand, concept, and character in mind while still managing to be hilarious with such lines as, “chocolate shaped things,” and “we are both attractive movie stars who just got married in my brain.” Here’s one of my favorite responses. I dare say it made me LOL, and by LOL, I mean “leap onto llamas” because I was so excited I actually jumped onto a llama. It might have been an alpaca, but I didn’t care.

Efficient

While it might have been easy to tweet back at the comments and questions, you chose a more complicated and potentially time consuming process. However, you found a way to do it swiftly and consistently, not only bolstering your YouTube channel with lots of content, but you responded so quickly that people wondered how you were able to turn out so many videos so quickly. (Of your 139 videos on YouTube, 117 of them are responses. 117 videos? I’m giddy about that.) Well, you had a formula that you knew would work and you stuck with it. Pure brilliance. Here’s one of the first videos to hit, which was directed at our friend Jason Keath (@jakrose). “Fry it up and eat it down.”

Strategic 

I’m kind of “in the biz,” as they say in the biz, so I know a thing or two about strategy when it comes to this sort of thing. I couldn’t help but notice that you didn’t index the response videos specifically so that they would spread virally, and not be directly searched. That’s the sort of thing you can measure, and judging by the consistent number of views on the videos across the board, you did it right. Another thing you did right strategically was pick and choose who you responded to. Everyone from people who were singing your praises to people who poo-pooed your cleverness to celebrities with gazillions of followers including Ellen DeGeneres, Apolo Ohno, and Ashton Kutcher. This begat more responses and questions, so you had content fodder for as long as you needed it. Milleniums, even. Here’s what you had to say to the very pretty Alyssa Milano (@alyssa_milano).

I’d like to conclude this letter with a tip of my hat, a curtsey of my skirt, and a click of my heels, Old Spice. I hope that your bar-setting campaign makes the rest of us out here in Internetville work harder, smarter, and more muscley.  I’m interested to find the ROI of this stunt, and by ROI, I mean “rippling, obvious impact.” I for one, already use your products, not because of the marketing you’re doing, though, but because they make me smell like the type of man they make movies about. Action movies, where the guy gets the girl at the end, and the two of them ride off on a motorcycle into the distance. The motorcycle sprouts magnificent bat wings and carries them high into the atmosphere while an actual scorpion plays the solo from “Winds of Change” by Scorpions. You know the one I’m talking about.

Keep up the good work, Old Spice.

Your friend,

Jeremy S. Griffin (@jsgriffin)

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11 Comments
  • Grant Martin
    Posted at 16:39h, 14 July

    I really enjoyed reading your in-depth analysis of this campaign, Jeremy. In addition to the other great points you made, I was (and continue to be) struck by how indefatigable the Old Spice Guy seems to be. I mean, after over 100 responses, you’d think there would be some visible wear and tear on this guy. But then again, I suppose I didn’t factor in his awesome awesomeness. I wish you all the best, including your very own custom-made video reply by Mr. Mustafah.

  • Jim Gay
    Posted at 16:55h, 14 July

    This campaign is just plain awesome and will be studied intensely by marketers. I’m interested to see their sales numbers after this.

  • JGriffin
    Posted at 16:58h, 14 July

    Thanks Grant! I appreciate the kind words and wish you a happy and wonderful existence.

    -JSG

  • steve850
    Posted at 17:26h, 14 July

    Really nice post!

  • DanMcD
    Posted at 20:38h, 14 July

    In addition to this campaign going viral, social bookmarking community/news aggregating Reddit saw the Old Spice “Guy on a Horse” mingling amongst its users, even creating a thread to answer the queries of Redditors. A long time Reddit user myself, I felt his interactions were fresh, fun and decidedly un-corporate. Rather than legions of keyboard jockeys calling him out for inserting himself into a community artificially, they embraced his posts, participating in the conversation and passing links on. Bravo, Old Spice!

  • David B. Thomas
    Posted at 02:32h, 15 July

    Good stuff, Jeremy. I’m fascinated by this campaign. Why do you think the number of views have dropped off so steeply? I’m looking at the YouTube channel at 10:30 pm Wednesday:

    Re: @skydiver | Old Spice
    307 views – 11 hours ago

    Re: @rosemcgowan | Old Spice
    196,545 views – 1 day ago

    They go from consistently having tens of thousands to 100,000-plus views, then drop off across the board to 300 or so views. On the surface it seems like the campaign had a one-day shelf life, and everybody woke up this morning tired of it. But everybody seems to be talking about it today. Do you think there’s some other explanation?

  • Guest
    Posted at 06:39h, 15 July

    It doesn’t look like those numbers are accurate. The @gillette comment says only 305 views, but it’s already received over 700 likes. YouTube probably takes a while to update those view numbers.

  • JGriffin
    Posted at 13:58h, 15 July

    Not sure if it is a lack of interest or just that there are so many videos that certain ones aren’t being watched as others. That and maybe Rose McGowan is more interesting to people than @skydiver?

  • David B. Thomas
    Posted at 15:27h, 15 July

    Just interesting because it is such a steep dropoff and seems to be across
    the board. Day before yesterday, all of them got tens of thousands of
    views. Yesterday, none seemed to get more than 300.

  • Gaelicgal288
    Posted at 13:54h, 18 August

    Loved your commentary!

  • jgarza
    Posted at 23:19h, 27 January

    @jgriffin What do you mean by “I couldn’t help but notice that you didn’t index the response videos specifically so that they would spread virally, and not be directly searched.”

    I’m sort of having a brain fart and not understanding what this meant.

    Great read though, love the insight. As a small business owner trying to deal with social media on my own (lack of funds to outsource) I appreciate blogs like this.

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