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Old Spice: A Social Media Marketing Success Story

Stephen Logan

by Stephen Logan on 14th July 2010

A look at how Old Spice have successfully used social media to promote brand awareness through a viral interactive YouTube campaign.

Unfortunate social media marketing usually only comes into focus when something goes catastrophically wrong. Take the Groupola iPhone incident last week. PR was horribly mismanaged through Twitter and Facebook, following a major site-wide crash during the promotion. This left the company facing widespread criticism and consumer outrage [see: Groupola's £99 iPhone: a catalogue of major #FAIL | Econsultancy].

Taking somebody down a peg or two is human nature. When people or companies get above their station and fail, we like nothing more than telling them all about it. But when it comes to social media marketing there are some successes that deserve a mention.

If you are a regular Twitter or YouTube user it probably won’t have escaped your attention that the Old Spice brand is being bandied around a fair amount today. This is effective social media marketing in action.

So often companies overlook the most fundamental part of social media – being social. It’s all well and good creating a bit of a buzz or promoting a product endlessly, but without direct interaction you can only achieve so much. Old Spice certainly appear to have cracked that nut.

Using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube integration, the brand famed for their masculine musk have been building a fan base around an online campaign around The Old Spice Man. Social media users are invited to ask questions and talk to him through the various channels. But rather than responding through generic tweets or messages from a PR intern, they have decided to create a series of short videos. Cue social media meltdown.

Their Facebook page has over 575,000 fans and they’ve invested in becoming a ‘Promoted’ trend on Twitter. With the towel wearing Old Spice Man and his YouTube responses as the primary focus, all of this activity is creating a natural buzz.  This is, remember, just a fragrance brand.

The concept is simple and the execution perfect. By responding to genuine public queries through a variety of social media channels Old Spice are furthering the awareness of this campaign and, as a direct consequence, their brand.

Now this won’t be replicable for many businesses; certainly not those with tight resources. However, as a case study for success it should certainly open up your eyes. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and all other social media, networking and bookmarking sites are hugely effective in their own right. But if you can have a concerted campaign across numerous platforms the benefit is manifold.

This particular campaign has now gone viral. Ingenuity, interaction and targeted promotion have ensured that it has seeped into the public consciousness. Regardless of people’s feelings towards the brand themselves, the videos and tweets have taken promotion to a new level.

Old Spice aren’t the first to have employed such techniques, but they have (arguably at least) been one of the most effective. Their efforts can be upstaged, but it is going to take increasingly dynamic and inventive techniques to do so. For now at least though, the company are on the crest of a viral wave and will no doubt be the envy of many who have tried and failed.

The litmus test may well be whether it actually spawns a spurt in sales. However, if marketing is supposed to be about generating interest and boosting brand awareness, this has certainly been a success.

Stephen Logan

Stephen Logan

Stephen Logan is our Senior Content Marketer at Koozai. With four years experience writing exclusively for the search engine marketing industry, he has amassed a wealth of industry related knowledge. He will be breaking news stories and contributing compelling SEO related stories.


  • SherwinRocks 14th July 2010

    Great article and “heads up” to PR/marketing types on what works and doesn’t. However, what the article fails to mention are a couple crucial elements that is making this campaign successful. Namely, excellent (and not cheap) resources.

    Being backed by an excellent and experienced ad agency can’t be over looked. This campaign has the advantage of
    Wieden + Kennedy (Check Wikipedia for their list of home-runs!), which explains a lot.

    The set design (for the first commercial) took a lot of time and resources (see “The Making of the Old Spice’s Commercial (via TWiT, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDk9jjdiXJQ) and is being re-purposed efficiently. However, a great staff of writers, production crew and a nearly perfect spokesperson is certainly not cheap! (However much Mustafa et al are being paid is worth every penny in the return!) Point being, as the author stated, this kind of SM campaign wouldn’t work for everyone, however, there aren’t many brands willing to take the risk either. But I hope some do, as it makes excellent content for folks like me who hunger for more high-end internet media. :)


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  • avm123 11th August 2010

    That is basically the foremost concern of social media engagements. creating an impact to the target market is indeed the initial focus of marketing but adhering an access to an audience beyond your market is definitely a very good business vision. It shows how effective the social media is by creating transformation of audience int potential buyers.

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