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Smell Like a Man … Man oh Man with Old Spice

If you ever doubt that viral marketing works, consider just how tired you got of seeing Isaiah Mustafa’s “Smell Like a Man, Man!” videos that kicked off at the Super Bowl and peaked sometime during the summer. The Old Spice brand is back, just in time for your kids’ Christmas-buying convenience.

But that Mustafa swagger – it’s just SO-oo last week. Or is it?

Now, fresh from the storyboards at the Children’s Television Workshop suite, the hype is revisited as everybody’s favorite monster – Grover – promos “Smell Like a Monster!” The animated parody even drew mention from Procter & Gamble exec Marc Pritchard when he addressed the 100th-anniversary meeting of the Association of National Advertisers
in New York City last week.

Pritchard is a global marketing and chief branding officer for P&G, owner of the Old Spice brand, which has benefited mightily from the 140 million YouTube viewings of “Smell Like a Man, Man!” and its various spinoffs and parodies. It is, in fact, the most-watched sponsored YouTube channel ever.

The campaign boosted the number of Old Spice followers on Twitter from fewer than 5,000 to a number now approaching 120,000. Social media, he said, gives “everyone a microphone … (to be) part of the conversation about our brands — good, bad or indifferent.”

Added Pritchard: “We are at the start of one of the most exciting eras in brand-building history.”

The legitimate Old Spice series, created by Wieden+Kennedy of Nike fame, is one of those special efforts that has taken on a life of its own – the very definition of viral marketing. It has its own Wikipedia entry. and won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Commercial. Granted, P&G provided the Mustafa spot with gargantuan support via its multi-billion dollar ad budget. But the rewards were equally gargantuan: The campaign has accounted for well over a billion impressions, according to MediaDailyNews, and has become the top-selling body wash brand in the United States.

4 Social Media Marketing Tips Learned from Old Spice

So, what can we learn from the Old Spice experience, besides the value of an unlimited ad budget and a PR/Social Media operation that could have made George Patton a millionaire on endorsements?

  1. Well, first of all, humor – well done and in palatable portions – can be a strong incentive for “likes” and “shares.”
  2. Don’t be sensitive if someone out there steals your thunder with parodies or even blatant ripoffs; there’s plenty of thunder to go around. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and, in the case of viral marketing, is an integral part of any successful program … just make sure none of the imitators are competitors, who have a built-in reason to wish you ill.
  3. Be sure to focus on ways to make brand identity, features and benefits shine through all levels of copywriting and creative efforts.
  4. Follow up one successful idea with sequels. You’ve got a built-in market of viewers who saw your first effort; if they like you, they’ll carry the load in making sure others are in on the joke.
Sallie Burnett
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