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It has been just over a year since Isaiah Mustafa’s Old Spice Man character moved from traditional advertising spaces and conquered the internet with the fantastic rolling campaign of YouTube ‘reply’ videos. I am a huge fan of that 2010 campaign and think it’s still one of the best examples of a dusty brand embracing participatory culture completely and reaping the rewards. This week, the next iteration in that social media campaign has kicked off, with cultural manhood cliché Fabio attempting to wrestle away Mustafa’s Old Spice man crown. Mustafa accepted the challenge and now a ‘battle’ rages ‘Live at Internet Stadium’ with the two both replying to challenges and comments from participants online.
Commentators have already jumped on this as an example of advertising embracing transmedia storytelling in what seems a quite meaningful way. For example, Hypervocal comments:
We don’t know how this will all play out today, but the Old Spice Guy campaign has now transcended mere advertising into the realm of long form digital storytelling. It’s fairly incredible what Old Spice and W+K have established. We’re seeing a full-on social media duel unfold across Twitter and YouTube that doubles as a quasi-advertising campaign (except that nobody cares about the Old Spice connection, they care about the characters and story) — people are being called out directly on both platforms, dates and times for the duel were announced, and tweets and videos will surely be published in a real-time, but coordinated, environment later today.
I agree that this has transcended traditional advertising, but in doing so it asks to be judged in terms of storytelling, not just advertising. Now perhaps I’m not the right person to ‘get’ this duel; I’ve never found Fabio a convincing character and just don’t find him funny. (Nor it seems does the internet; his challenge has more ‘dislikes’ than likes, but Mustafa’s reply is almost entirely ‘liked’.) However, for me, as a narrative experience, the Old Spice campaign has jumped the shark. The ‘duel’ doesn’t appear to be over yet, and perhaps I’ll be won over, but for now both the manly men vying for the Old Spice crown seem burdened by their roles, not excited by it. Fabio is a weary icon at best, and Mustafa’s lines just aren’t as funny as last year.
Update: Surprising no one, the Old Spice guy (Mustafa) won the ‘duel’, but the pathway there, through numerous odd videos, was a bizarre one, even by internet standards. Just watch the final showdown video to see odd things really got:
Update 2: YouTube have run the numbers, and the Old Spice Guy versus Fabio videos (over 100 of them) clocked up 22 million views in a week, with the viewing peaking with just over 5 million views in a single day.
You probably remember last year’s amazing Old Spice social media campaign (details here and here) in which the man from the ads started replying to people’s comments on YouTube. It was incredibly well put together and the most endearing and genuine use of social media for marketing to date. In a really clever move, after announcing that newly crafted ads were coming soon, the marketing team decided the best way to share the first new ad would be to give the link to just one fan and let them decide how/when/if to share it. Here’s Isaiah Mustafa in his Old Spice Guy persona looking for his Super Fan:
Having a teenage winner is a slick move, since it really targets the aging Old Spice brand at a youthful demographic. It’s also a little risky, but acknowledging the importance and power of Old Spice’s fans (fans of the videos, and thus fans of the brand, even if not yet prominent users) is important and will endear the brand even further. The risk, and probably reward, comes in giving Chris Gatewood the only link to the new Old Spice advertisement, which a lot of people are waiting to see. If Chris uses this opportunity, it’ll certainly drive traffic to his twitter page and elsewhere. For the Old Spice folks, it really empowers one fan and encourages others to see Old Spice once again as truly interacting with their fans/consumers rather than just talking at them (as 90% of online brands tend to do).
Now, it’s certainly true that the largest single audience will be when the Old Spice ad plays during the US Superbowl (which is the peak ratings event in the US, and also where their most expensive ads usually debut), but reaching out to the online fans first is still a clever move. Here’s the hilariously kitsch video of the Old Spice Man calling Chris to tell him he’s going to posses the only link to the new Old Spice video in the entire universe for the next three days:
And if you want to see the new Old Spice ad … I guess you’ll have to follow Chris Gatewood on Twitter and wait for him to share a link. 🙂
Continuing from yesterday’s post about the impressive Old Spice replies social media campaign, I just wanted to highlight two more examples since they replies have continued into day two of the campaign. The first, a reply to knitmeapony’s request of an answering machine message shows just how clever the script writers are on these clips: the Old Spice guy carefully delivers a clip with can so easily be remixed into any number of customised answering machine replies, with strategic pauses between audio bites of numbers and phrases, making this a really easy clip to remix! Like so:
Or the equivalent for a man’s man’s answering machine:
The other clip which I really liked was to Isaiah Mustafa’s daughter, Hayley, who wondered why the Old Spice man looks so much like her dad:
It’s worth noting that while this clip is public, it’s unlisted, so not visible on the main YouTube channel; initially, it was only found by those who saw the tweet. Having some clips only available via specific media platforms gives Old Spice reply fans even more reason to join all the Old Spice social media forms!
Meanwhile, Marshall Kirkpatrick over at Read Write Web has a look behind the curtain at How the Old Spice Videos Are Being Made; Kirkpatrick gets a certain amount of access to the production team, so it’s worth having a read. Also, Boing Boing note that there’s already been some ‘competition’ for the Old Spice man, but that’s a little generous.
I do wonder if there will be any more of these clips. There are still some gems in the second day’s replies, but they also seem to be running out of steam here and there, repeating their jokes a bit. Perhaps the Old Spice man needs to rest after a job well done, leaving the tantalizing promise of a repeat performance weeks or months down the track?
Update: It’s done; I must ride my jetski/lion into the sunset …
When Old Spice is mentioned, if anything comes to mind at all, it’s … old. And not old in a dignified or wise way. That’s all changed for me today, as I’ve just seen evidence that their current marketing campaign is
one of the cleverest commercial use of social media I’ve ever seen (thanks to a post from mUmbrella). The story begins with this well-produced, amusing advertisement for Old Spice:
Apparently it won some awards and so forth, but it’s still just a normal tv spot.
Then, today, things started to get interesting on the Old Spice YouTube channel (with links on Twitter, Facebook and even Reddit) as Isaiah Mustafa, in his Old Spice role, started replying to comments from people online. First off, a big media nod to Ellen DeGeneres, and it seemed like there might be a series of carefully scripted replies to recognisable celebrities and media platforms (all amplifying the Old Space brand, of course). But then the Old Spice marketers did something really clever: the replies in the videos shifted aim, towards non-celebrity, ‘ordinary’ internet users who’ve made comments somewhere (YouTube, Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, etc) about the Old Spice ads. Suddenly, that netherworld of social media comments, which so often feels like screaming into the wind, brought a deluge of replies from the Old Spice guy. Over one hundred Old Spice replies were uploaded in 24 hours, the vast majority of which are in reply to comments made today. Just as impressive, the writing team have obviously enjoyed their energy drinks, because the scripts were hilarious, endearing, ironic and certainly every single reply is worth watching.
No doubt the most notable Old Spice reply will be one done in reply to jsbeals’s request to pass on his marriage proposal; the story ends well as she apparently said yes! However, what really impressed me is that the masculinity of the Old Spice ads, while driving the marketing pitch, is also deeply ironic (which rather suits the a brand of this vintage), poking particular fun at its own notion of ‘being a man’:
The Old Spice replies are also littered with internet-driven humour, with a particular take on the age old pirates vs ninjas debate, a good poke at stupid YouTube handles in the form of a decent robot joke, an hilarious jab (and brave) jab at 4chan, /b/, and anonymous, and lots of other references to please us all. My favourite quirky video, though, was this seemingly innocuous reply to a tweet that came from Isaiah Mustafa …
and got this reply:
The funny thing, of course, is that Isaiah Mustafa is the guy in the ads, in the bathroom … in a towel (and I guess we know what’s under that towel now: the iPhone from which he’s tweeting to his own account!). Indeed, Mustafa has been a great sport, going along with some very quirky scripts that he’s obviously delivered very quickly. When the boundary between a game, a conversation and an advertising campaign becomes so thin, it’s everyone who wins. Old Spice 2.0 has certainly made me laugh today and I’m sure I’ll be reading about the Old Spice replies in pretty much every news media I go near tomorrow!
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