One of the greatest examples of integrated marketing communications is a plan so seamless and flawlessly executed that it deserves a place in the hall of fame for a completely immersive experience that didn’t even feel like marketing. Who will ever forget the Smell like a Man, Man campaign , AKA “Old Spice Man?”
This particular IMC campaign heavily integrated advertising with content and social media marketing. Combining television ads with wildly viral video and above-and-beyond-the-call-of-duty social media engagement, Old Spice plucked the memorable, tongue-in-cheek character of Old Spice Man, initially portrayed by Isaiah Mustafa, straight from television screens across the country and deposited him on YouTube. This was the start of pure magic.
It all started with a 30 second ad spot that was widely run and exceptionally well received. Realizing the potential reach and cost effectiveness of YouTube, particularly when marketing to a younger generation (the target demographic for their line of body washes – who were already being assailed regularly with memorable ads from brands like Axe), the Old Spice team uploaded additional videos in the campaign series online. Fans of the character could see him in action far beyond the reaches of their TV screens. As interest in the character and the ads became clear, Old Spice released additional television commercials. These were supported with continued YouTube content, one of the first and certainly most spectacular examples of how video on TV and video online can work perfectly together. But Old Spice had the smarts to not just upload ads, but to pay attention to what people were saying to the character in tweets and video responses. They added the perfect twist that accelerated results astronomically.
By relying on engagement with Twitter influencers, Old Spice transformed the IMC campaign into something of an agony aunt, allowing him to answer questions and otherwise address fans individually with hilarious results. They used the same shower set from the commercial in most cases and scripted the brief replies for Isaiah to deliver in character. They clearly filmed them in batches and released them over time. It not only increased the amount of content available on the YouTube channel, but it drove incredible amounts of engagement, and public perception of the brand skyrocketed.
Old Spice used to be the aftershave your grandfather wore. Suddenly, Old Spice was hip. It was appealing to younger generations, and sales of their body wash and related products proved that appeal. According to AdWeek, sales for Old Spice jumped 55% in the first three months of the campaign. The momentum was clear from the outset. What’s especially impressive, though, is the sheer longevity of the success. As people became more aware of the video responses that were being released on YouTube, the fire was fueled – and in the fourth month of the campaign, sales jumped an astonishing 107%.
Alongside this advertising and content marketing campaign was an effective social media strategy that utilized various networks to support the work they were doing in television and on YouTube. Old Spice monitored social media mentions and sentiment with what must have been a herculean effort. They gave him an additional universe in which to exist – Old Spice Man was no longer a simple character from a TV ad. He was a living breathing entity with which fans could interact, and this generated enormous buzz.
All told this campaign generated more than 1.2 billion media impressions, over 100 million YouTube views and exponential increases in social media following. As an integrated marketing campaign, it was a stunning victory. But it also excelled in marketing without making it feel obvious. The initial TV ads were clearly advertising, but as the campaign took on a new life online, it was easy to forget you were watching people market a brand and a product. It felt more like entertainment, which was endearing and valuable to Old Spice’s demographic. And with the vastly renewed interest and sales, a tired old brand became a relevant household name once again.