If you are reading this, you are likely in the advertising industry, and if you are in the advertising industry you have undoubtedly heard all about the phenomenon that is "The Old Spice Man." When Old Spice, W+K et al, made the decision to produce extremely rapid custom content based on the popular character, they changed the very way we will look at advertising going forward. The big question for everyone is: What does it all mean? Here are a couple of thoughts.
1. Creative and production matter (still)! It seems that the death of high-quality content in the advertising world has been greatly exaggerated. With the Old Spice Man, we saw that a great creative concept and high quality production work can still trump most challenges facing advertising.
2. Buying media to build an audience. Stories have a funny way of rewriting themselves. What people in the advertising industry will remember tomorrow, and what they are already talking about, is how Old Spice was able to get so much "free" media through YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. However, what is left out of this scenario is the millions of dollars in television and digital media that Old Spice used to build an audience for a genius creative campaign. It was this equity with their consumers that allowed the short-form content to be such a success.
3. Rethinking content production. While the entire campaign was brilliant, the most innovative part was the execution of a series of short but extremely high-quality responses from the Old Spice Man to questions in social media. Building in a plan for the production and distribution of additional, audience-engaging, high-quality content is not an easy task. While it can be highly impactful, there are a number of factors to consider (we'll get to that).
4. An idealized version of The Old Spice Man will (unfortunately) be the new standard in digital (RIP Crispin Porter's Subservient Chicken). It is the brilliance of the work and the fact that it was so innovative that make it nearly impossible to replicate.
A lot of things came together for The Old Spice Man to make it such a great success. First, it was first. If tomorrow there was another character addressing digital fans, it would be hard-pressed to get the same reaction from people. Along with average fans, Old Spice Man addressed a number of very influential social media types, and these people in turn promoted the Old Spice video to their millions of friends, fans and followers. There is obviously a limit to how many times a brand could reuse this tactic.
Second, the character was so well put together and so well executed, that he stood on his own (reminder: AFTER an audience was built using paid media vehicles). This is, of course, very rare. Not every campaign that is remotely funny will meet the high bar set by The Old Spice Man -- but that doesn't mean it's a bad campaign, it just means it needs more distribution support.
5. OK, I only had four, but five sounded like a better number for a list. What else do you take away from the Old Spice Man phenomenon? Leave a comment and drop me a line on Twitter www.twitter.com/joemarchese, and we will pick a fifth lesson. I might even generate a personal response wearing a towel in a YouTube video... actually, that's probably not the best idea for me or you.