Old Spice and Moneyball: Integrating Social Media

What do the Old Spice body wash “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign and the movie Moneyball have in common? In the first post in this series, Old Spice and Moneyball: How Marketers Must Learn to Love Social Media, I examined Old Spice’s campaign, and in the second, Old Spice and Moneyball: Embracing Social Media, I reviewed the most remarkable facet of the campaign: direct-response YouTube videos. In this post I compare Billy Bean’s innovation vs. Old Baseball with current conditions in the advertising and marketing industry.

Old Spice Guy Manta Claus

I just saw Moneyball, the movie, and I see some real parallels here between the Old Baseball techniques of traditional advertising and marketing and the new ground Old Spice has broken.

In the movie (and real life) Billy Bean decides to disregard the conventional wisdom (experienced scouts find and evaluate talent; fielding is as important as getting on base) and build a new paradigm. He was told in many different ways how it won’t work; it’s heretical; he’s an idiot. Although his team wins 20 straight games, setting a major league record, it fails to win the pennant. Everybody says this confirms his idiocy. Then the Red Sox use his method to win two World Series and break the curse of the Bambino.

This is like the ad world’s reaction to Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign: They only managed to maintain share; the social media frenzy didn’t turn into dollars; quirky works, but can’t sustain.

After the YouTube video response campaign, Old Spice didn’t entirely abandon the quirky and interactive social media based approach to advertising. They set up a duel between “New Old Spice Guy” Fabio and “Old Old Spice Guy” Isaiah Mustafa that featured each spokesman responding to comments made via social media. They went on to do some other clever videos. Then, during December, 2011, they created the “Manta Claus” campaign in which Mustafa announces he wants to give gifts to all 7 billion of us.

In the first video, Mustafa name checks Twitter user @beautyjunkies  and gifts her with a pair of shoes made out of necklaces. @beautyjunkies is a lady named Amber with more than 12,000 followers who runs a sophisticated Website that hawks all kinds of beauty accessories. This type of site is similar to the “fashion hauling” sites targeted at young women. On haul sites and videos, women show off their latest fashion finds. So @beautyjunkies is a savvy choice for Old Spice, who admitted that when they started, they had little idea of how to find social media influencers. “We don’t have the answers of who the real influencers are in the world right now,” said Iain Tait, global interactive executive creative director at Wieden + Kennedy, who produced the original Old Spice campaigns. “We wanted to pick a cross-section where we could meet influencers in different areas.”[1]

Mustafa goes on in a series of videos name-checking 25 other social media users, Australia, Billings, Montana, Matt Lauer, and South America (in Spanish). These videos don’t have the stratospheric numbers of views of the originals — ranging from 45,000 to half a million views each versus the 3.5 million combined views for the Fabio/Mustafa duel videos — but the approach shows that Old Spice understands the technique they pioneered.

That Old Spice gets it is reflected in the fact that, for the second straight year, their campaigns have topped the list as the most viral brand of the year in video. Old Spice is even name-checked in Mashable’s infographic, The Evolution of Advertising: From Stone Carving to the Old Spice Guy.

Continuing our conversation, Chris Cortilet, Principal of human-centered design firm, Azul7, thinks that companies in both the advertising/marketing and the digital/interactive camps can learn a lot from Old Spice’s success. “There are so many in the digital or interactive industry who think the ad world is crap,” Cortilet said. “I just think that there is a legacy of things agencies do that our community should take note of. By the same token, advertising folks are starting to get some aspects of social media, and when they do get it, they’ll be a force.”


[1] Advertising Week’s How Old Spice Ruled the Real-Time Web: bit.ly/thJ6Dj



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