Old Spice Campaign : A Social media example?

A story about how to spice-up an ‘Old Spice’!

Over the past 3 weeks, the Old Spice campaign has generated quite a lot of buzz within the social media marketing communities (~1700 SMM bloggers).

See for yourself  with this trend on the number of mentions from zero before the campaign to several hundreds lately (actually 183 mentions 3 weeks ago and a 3.33% share of voice – percentage of the overall conversations from the community which is quite a lot):

What kind of social media was it?

Before I give my answer for Old Spice, let me expose a bit of our thinking here at eCairn. We often talk about ‘Marketing in Social Media’ vs ‘Social Media Marketing’.

The difference is that :

1) is one size fits all, broadcast, static, campaign oriented and so on…
2) is network/tribes/community centric, true 2-way communication, engagement forever and so on –

in 1) you may see customer involved in a dialog with the brand but rarely will you see customers talking with other customers like around a campfire ;-). It’s not a sustainable dialog.

Before I get to my answer, I also did a very casual analysis of a sample to get an idea of the overall perception around the campaign.

Overall people thought it was a good camapgn (12 positive vs 7 negatives, some neutral).

On the positive side, people highlighted the following:

  • Creative and rule breaking campaign
  • Outstanding integration of advertising and social media
  • Manage to update their image from an ‘old’ brand to a ‘hippie’ one
  • Good response management as part of the campaign

Other people highlighted shortcomings and  potential issues/risks:

  • The use of a strong caricature and the risk of a backfire. Indeed if a target audience doesn’t like what they see in a campaign, they’ll use social media to retaliate. It has happen with Motrin 1+ year ago so the risk is real.
    I like the “what happens in public can derail in public” sentence from Todd
  • Lack of listening and conversation
  • Funny and cool videos but no real message to alter the brand image.
  • User spoofing videos that can alter brand reputations as users don’t have the same restrictions as a brand (We’ve seen example of that in facebook with user generated brand pages more popular than the brand pages itself)

The purist in me believes social is our default form of communication. It takes place in small circles (10-50 people max who relay the story through their networks) where everyone takes turn in front of the group for the talk and listens. The conversation changes as each person share their experience and thoughts. There’s no real end to it. Brands, through their employees need to find those small circle and become one of the listener/talker.

Does the Old Spice campaign sound like it?

Not to me, it’s broadcast with a good dialog between the brand and the users (highly praised by all social media marketers) but nothing between users. It’s marketing in social media (aka, same old marketing at the core with some social media on the surface). Note that there’s nothing wrong with it, it doesn’t take away the greatness of the campaign itself but am not sure it will really change perception of the brand in the long run. It will be quickly forgotten as the next ‘creative campaign’ takes the spotlights.

As I write this, I’m also asking myself: “What would social media marketing be for a brand like ‘Old Spice’?

I’ll try to answer the question in a later post but suggestions are welcome as I have no idea at this point in time!

One thought on “Old Spice Campaign : A Social media example?

  1. Thanks for this great post, Laurent, and also for your comment on my post over at Spin Sucks. I think you address this issue very well here. But I think your debate is one between social media marketing and the development of an online community.

    While I do agree that elements of the Old Spice campaign were simply traditional broadcast methods, I also think that they did a great job bridging the gap between TV and online social networks. After all, as you note, there was a tremendous amount of conversation among individuals online.

    But did it do anything to foster a sustainable community around the Old Spice brand? If it did, it certainly wasn’t much. In my mind, that’s the distinction between a social media campaign and a community-building effort. I do think it was a successful campaign, but I think they’re still lacking on the community piece.

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