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4 Lessons You Can Learn from the Brilliant Old Spice Guy Campaign

If you’re at all interested in marketing or social media you’ve undoubted seen the Old Spice Guy social media / advertising campaign that has been running this week. Created by Proctor & Gamble’s advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy the campaign finds the Old Spice Guy, played by actor Isaiah Mustafa, responding to tweets, Facebook posts and Youtube comments with hilarious short videos. Some of the video responses are directed to celebrities, others to regular folks, but all of them are well-written, fun and brand relevant. Here’s two of my personal favorites:

There’s already been a fair amount of gushing across the blogosphere about how this is the archetype of a successful social media campaign and giving a look behind the curtain at how W+K won the Internet. That’s all well and good, but I think its important to also take a look on some of the underlying factors of success with the campaign and how you can apply these lessons to your marketing and advertising endeavors.

#1 – Big Ideas Will Always Matter

I was once in a meeting with a Fortune 500 brand where we had invited invited in a media sales rep to try and convince us that we should partner with his television and radio station network for a large scale event and advertising campaign we were developing. His pitch was this – ideas are a dime a dozen but its the execution that matters. He couldn’t have be more wrong. Yes, how you execute an idea can significantly impact the success of a marketing campaign, but its the big, fun and creative ideas that move customers and build brands. What W+K got right with the Old Spice Guy started long before this week. They created a brand icon that was already resonating with customers. They just found an innovative way to bring that brand icon to life through social media.

#2 – The Content Is More Important Than The Medium

This campaign simply wouldn’t have worked without fantastic writing and stellar acting. The W+K creative team hit the nail on the head with clever videos that made the Old Spice Guy feel real. However this is really the same thing they’ve been doing for months with their television commercials. What they’ve done to elevate the campaign is make it a multichannel. But none of it would work without the creative and content.

#3 – Humor, Dialogue and Speed Drive Social Media

Beyond the great creative and smart content, W+K really understands social media as a marketing channel. They used humor, which is always a hit online. They structured the content to feel personal by directing it at actual users of Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, forums and blogs. And they did it all fast. Their reward? In less than a week they’ve generated 4 million+ views of their Youtube videos, hundreds of articles in the media and tens of thousands of messages between end consumers. Not too shabby.

#4 – You Can Only Succeed By Taking Risks

When you really think about it, Proctor & Gamble took a big risk with this campaign. They trusted their advertising agency to be true to the spirit of the Old Spice brand and allowed the agency’s creative team to produce and distribute original content without prior approval. Whether you’re a Fortune 100 company or a small start up – that’s a scary thing to allow any group to do, whether internal or external. However because there was that trust between the company and their agency they were willing to stick their necks out and its paying off big time.

So while a campaign like the Old Spice Guy may not be realistic for all business or organizations it just goes to show that if you create a capable team that dreams big, give them the tools and flexibility to do what they do best and stay focused on adding value then you will almost always have a win on your hands.


W+K’s video case study on the Old Spice campaign has been released and just goes to show that social media can impact the bottom line. See for yourself:

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  • Leigh Wolinsky

    I agree 100%! I have been in awe of the Old Spice campaigns for ages. The way they took an out of date brand used only by old men, and made it relevant to younger audiences again is incredible.

    • jakefinkelstein

      Hi Leigh! You're absolutely right. W+K not only are executing well, but they've created an engaging campaign that has done well in repositioning the Old Spice brand overall. Not an easy trick to pull off.