What Can Old Spice Teach Us About Effective Marketing?

What can Old Spice teach us about effective marketing? Actually, a whole lot as their ‘the man your man could smell like’ campaign commercial revolutionized their brand and their bottom line. If you think that the commercial itself was clever enough, you are actually not all that wrong, but what was it about the commercial that make it great? Let’s explore to figure it out.

What makes for a successful viral campaign?

Old Spice’s business was slowing down, so they needed something that would help prevent that. As it turned out, women made up more than half of men’s body wash customer base, so how do you get them to buy Old Spice? Simple. You make a commercial that directly tells them to buy Old Spice. The commercial was funny, unique and charismatic, so it went viral. The style of the commercial from script, the message to the video was different; it was something else, it was special. This in turn got people to pay attention.

Of course, an encore was an obvious thing to do but it wasn’t enough. Old Spice wanted more engagement with their customers. They wanted to connect with their audience on an intimate and more personal level. How do you do this? By filming 180 video responses to fans in a YouTube Channel. The response campaign was the fastest growing and most popular campaign in history; the YouTube channel itself is the most viewed channel where within the first week it received more than 40 million views.

What contributed to their success?

First of all, it’s clear that it’s not good enough to be a brand and to advertise now a days. People are bombarded by ads non-stop daily so they learn to ignore them and stop paying attention. In order for them to give you their attention again, you need to do something different, interesting yet not too flashy. You need to create a connection with your audience/customers.

The first commercial, ‘the man your man could smell like,’ was funny and revenant. This in turn created an emotional connection between the brand and anyone who has seen it. It resonated with the viewers and so people paid attention.

When it came to topping the ‘the man your man could smell like’ commercial, Old Spice went even bigger by trying to engage and create a community around their brand. They reached out to the public, to their customers to ask for requests that they could then reply to. This is so much more powerful then you could imagine! Don’t brush this off.

What made them stand out? They wanted to reach out.

Old Spice was a viral thing, and they wanted to reach your average Joe; that’s something no one does. They wanted to literally have a conversation with their customers. By asking them for requests, Old Spice showed that they cared for their customers; they wanted to listen to them, entertain them and connect with them. It is now a two-way relationship. Most brands don’t care to interact with customers except the buying process. Instead, Old Spice wanted to create a relationship, which the value of is irreplaceable.

The power of reaching out

As a customer, imagine that your response gets a video reply. That is the coolest thing ever; you feel special, lucky, and just overall awesome because they chose to reply to you. Yes, you! That is the ultimate win for Old Spice in this customer’s eyes. Now, that customer is going to brag about this to EVERYONE he knows; his friends will too thing is pretty damn cool.

The YouTube channel along with the response campaign created a community for the Old Spice brand; what other brand has such a thing? The more obvious one is Apple with a loyal fan base. Does Snickers, or H&M have this? Sure, but it’s nothing special.

Humans like to connect with other humans, not with companies.

Marketing can be powerful if you understand the psychology of human connection. People like to be recognized, heard and appreciated. Old Spice took a different stand where they wanted to connect with their audience and their sales exploded. Within the first 6 months of ‘the man your man could smell like’ commercial airing their year-over-year sales increased 27%; the commercial itself made over 1.4 billion impressions. All this, thanks to Old Spice understanding that their customers were humans, not customers.

Written by Paula Borowska

Paula is a user experience designer who is fascinated with psychology and people. She loves talking shop so go follow her on Twitter or her user experience blog


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