For several years Old Spice has seemed to do everything right when it comes to advertising. They’ve had a slew of highly recognizable, entertaining and popular marketing campaigns centering on commercials. In fact, Old Spice has been on the tip of marketing guru’s tongues for several years.

Most recently, beyond the traditional television commercial, Old Spice has opted to harness the incredible power of video marketing, through social media giant YouTube.

The latest viral hit to be released by Old Spice was known as “Mom Song,” which is an extremely funny, creepy and downright haunting homage to overbearing moms and their dysfunctional relationships with their sons. The ad received over a million YouTube views in just three days, making it a huge hit in the world of viral marketing, and by the time it aired as an actual commercial during an NFL game, it already had a massive legion of fans.

Despite the success story that is Old Spice, many marketers, business owners and advertising professionals are wondering what sets apart a viral campaign from one that’s lackluster and fails to perform?

The First One is the Most Challenging

While there’s a lot at play behind the viral success of Old Spice, it’s important to remember they began their slew of popular ads in 2010, with an extremely successful ad, featuring a man on a horse, proclaiming he was indeed on a horse. Audiences loved it, which made them anxious to find out what the company would come up with next, so Old Spice was able to pretty quickly build a following, and they haven’t disappointed since.

A Few Reasons Old Spice Videos Work

Old Spice is extremely smart and targeted with their videos. It may seem they’re just going for pure wackiness, or shock value, but that’s not the case. Their initial viral videos were really focused on who was currently buying their products—women who were purchasing items for their sons, husbands, boyfriends, etc. They were really able to appeal to women with the sense that Old Spice is able to give a man all the qualities a woman is seeking.

They then did a little research and realized they were continuing to do well with this market, but their real untapped market was men and boys, thus the foray into the hilarious, yet surreal, which is what we’re seeing with Mom Song.

Ultimately, Old Spice is able to do something that’s difficult, which is creating video content that’s appealing from a consumers’ standpoint, while simultaneously being funny and entertaining—it’s like tuning into your favorite sitcom, so you forget you’re even being sold to for a moment.

Learning from Old Spice’s Success

You may not be an international corporation, but there are a lot of takeaways small businesses can incorporate into their marketing tactics that will increase their chances of going viral.

  • Strive to bring about some type of emotion, regardless of what it is. You can make people feel nostalgic, happy or make them cringe with discomfort, but any kind of evocation of emotion is a good thing in terms of viral marketing.
  • Viral marketing is not a time for the hard sell. Think about Old Spice—yes they’re advertising their products, but above all they’re entertaining. No hard sell video is going to go viral.
  • Create a concise, clear message. Try to craft one brief sentence that describes all you want to accomplish video. The shorter the better.

Much of the success behind viral videos relies on experimentation, and developing a following once you find a formula that works. Also, if you’re wondering whether or not viral videos have an impact on sales, the answer is overwhelmingly yes for Old Spice, and many other companies who’ve experienced similar success.

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