Old Spice’s recent viral campaign, “Smell like a Man, Man” is a perfect example of how viral media can succeed. The ad has been an enormous success not only in popularity, but also in the number of sales resulting, according to a recent study done by The Nielsen Co. and Symphony IRI Group. Nielson reports that sales of Old Spice Body Wash had only risen 11 percent in one year before the recent ad aired. In comparison, after Old Spice’s viral ad debuted, Old Spice saw sales rise 55 percent and then 107 percent after it had been playing for a few months.

Photo courtesy of: landofchaos

Today Old Spice is not the No. 1 brand of body wash and antiperspirant/deodorant in both sales and volume. Old Spice was founded in 1934 and is a perfect example of employing Madonna-like tactics to redefine its brand identity and meet the ongoing shifts in consumer demand. The recent viral video shows Old Spice is still keeping up with the times. But why was the viral commercial so successful? Their campaign is a textbook example of doing the viral campaign and doing it well. Here’s the anatomy of their successful viral campaign:

Engage Consumers in Real-Time

Mustafa, the “star” of the commercial, personally replied to blogger and Twitter comments about the campaign via the video. Consumers like to feel they’re being listened to, and the performance component of commenting is a strong way to get viewers to pay attention and remember a campaign.

Reiterations Are Key

One of the successful things the Old Spice campaign has done is to mix several reiterations of the same ad both online and offline including social media versions and web site versions. The original ad was created for the Super Bowl by Wieden and Kennedy. After it aired for the Super Bowl, the ad went viral. YouTube has had more than 230 million views. Twitter had 80,000 followers with 2 days of airing. And Facebook interaction increased 800 percent with personal videos posted by fans and consumers. The cross-pollination of traditional and new media forms clearly worked well for Old Spice.

Timing is Everything

And by timing, two things are meant. First, Old Spice is a great example of hitting all fronts at once. They posted on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube all within a short time of each other. Second, the time length of the video needs to be short and sweet. The old rule of thumb for online videos was two minutes, but Old Spice’s short videos were mostly all under a minute and sometimes as short as 17 seconds. Knowing today’s audience means knowing they have a limited attention span. Instant gratification is key.

Tap into Other Sources and Expand Your Reach Exponentially

Say the Old Spice guy responds to a Tweet made by Oprah. This response will be broadcast to all of Oprah’s followers. You immediately gain a wider audience, and best of all, that expansion is one-hundred percent free as your Tweet gets reposted to Oprah’s Facebook and blog sites.
Old Spice is a great example of an old dog learning new tricks and learning them better than their competition. The proof is in the pudding. “Good campaigns can take a while to take off,” according to Gary Stibel, CEO and founder of The New England Consulting Group, “but great campaigns have an impact right away.”
About the Author
Author Jena Daniels is furthering her education at Pepperdine University, who offers a top online MBA degree.