Viral View: Old Spice campaign smells great

What makes a good fragrance? You need a good perfumer who knows exactly which ingredients to add.

The current Old Spice campaign, which has been attracting so much attention, is a perfect example of what can happen if you get the right mix of creative and media planning ingredients - earned media that drives your campaign to a whole new level.

Wieden+Kennedy Portland’s initial creative isn’t amazing but it is fun. Starring the manliest man ever, doing the manliest things ever, it brings a smile to the viewers’ faces. On its own I doubt that it would have caused too much discussion.

Adding the next ingredient, the interactive element was a great touch. The Old Spice YouTube channel lets viewers ask Old Spice man questions through YouTube or Twitter, and if you’re lucky he’ll choose your post and answer with a short clip. Interesting creative and using social media to engage with viewers are essential ingredients for a great campaign. They are enough to win you Cannes Lions awards. But why has Old Spice man become such a hot topic in the last few days?

The reason is that for a campaign to succeed online, you need what you’ve always needed for any creative campaign to succeed and that’s great media planning. It still amazes me that some brands think that by creating great content and sticking it on YouTube, they will create the next viral hit. Would they have spent millions on a TV ad and then just broadcast it at 4am on Bravo?

What’s really new and different about Old Spice is in the planning and in the use of twitters promoted trends to drive online buzz. This has driven the profile of the campaign to a level that would never have been achieved otherwise and has actually made it go viral, creating a storm of earned media commentary across multiple media channels. They have also been clever to pick the most PR friendly requests that come in, like the marriage proposal, to earn even more traction.

So Old Spice have got the ingredients for their campaign right. Good creative, real social media engagement, and excellent planning. Let’s just hope other brands looking at this success remember you need all three ingredients and that in their quest to achieve similar success, we don’t get some rotten smelling campaigns.

Written by Jimmy Maymann, co-founder and chairman at Goviral