Old Spice Social Media Buzz Doesn’t Equal Sales

For the love of God, put your shirt on.

For the longest time I used to think that PR agencies didn’t get social media. “Give me impressions!” was the public relations mantra because it meant that they could easily transfer their knowledge of publication circulation multipliers into the emerging field called “social media”. Screw the long tail, screw review web sites, screw message boards and all of the other “unimportant” groups online because “they don’t have reach”.

“We want to take on the ad agencies head on!” was the PR agency rallying cry, and even though most ad agencies are going down the wrong route, and no matter how many decks you presented to them that this gimmick marketing was the wrong approach, they continued to push to ignore the long tail, ignore communities and ignore what actually drives sales. What’s come full circle is that the coveted social media reach play online that ad agencies have been great at have one thing in common: they don’t work.

We all know the outcomes of the failed social media “superstar” lineup: sales went down. First it was Subservient Chicken, then Evian Rollerskating Babies, now Old Spice’s half naked dude. I mean, how could a half naked man possibly not be attractive to men looking to buy a body wash? Let’s break down why this “successful” campaign didn’t play out at the register:

1. Wrong target

Most of the people that the Old Spice guy responded to? Not in the target audience. In fact, those that had videos made for them were done for reach purposes only, not because they are the target, speak to the target, reach the target or have any influence on the target. I know the brand wanted to take a risk and “get out there”, but this was the equivalent of shotgun marketing 2.0. Also, there are rumors that the actor in the ads may appear at BlogHer in an few weeks. Huh. That’s like going to a WWE match to sell tampons. Sure, having a 44DD bikini model handing out samples will get you some looks, but it’s not going to move product.

2. Wrong vehicle

I think the use of YouTube to respond was dead on. It’s where the Old Spice target is and where they look for entertainment. And that’s where it ends. Talking to “influential” Twitterers for the sake of a reach play was a complete miss in my opinion. While the media loves to shove Twitter down our throats, it’s not where the cool kids are getting their showering habit advice. Also? The average YouTuber is looking for entertainment, so by addressing people on Twitter they’ve never heard of completely missed the mark.

3. Wrong messenger

I understand that the ads may have resonated on TV. And I’m sure dude is a nice enough guy. But please don’t try and appeal to my wife to get to me, or better yet, Allysa Milano, who consequently tried to bilk P&G out of $100,000 for her favorite charity. Again, you go into someone else’s domain and use their name to shill your product for a short term reach play and now you’re sucked into a discussion about donating money to their charity. Smooth move, Ex-Lax.

Beyond all of this, the place they were driving people to was their @oldspice Twitter account, where their advertising character is the face of it. Huh? This makes sense how? We ripped Captain Morgan for having a mascot Captain as their “voice” several years ago and this is different how? The Twittersphere that got sucked in on this campaign showed that they’re so desperate for attention and notoriety that they completely missed the fact that this campaign, even with all of their “GENIUS!” tweets, was a complete flub.

Ultimately the only numbers that matter (sales) show that this sort of stunt marketing using web 2.0 tools doesn’t pay off. It should – SHOULD – be an obvious warning that things need to change if agencies are going to help their clients move forward in social media. Otherwise, it might be time for the brands to move forward with another agency.

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No Responses

  1. dbinkowski says:

    Thanks for the comment! There are two facts that are true:

    1. The brand was heavily discounted during this time period. Social media or not, consumers are looking to save money and a 1/2 price item within a category doesn't need social media to sell.

    2. The ROI of this campaign has yet to be proven. Yes, there were sales and yes they used social media, however at what cost and what return? Until those factors have been added in it's way too premature for the agency that created it to be pitching trades on what a huge success this was by simply showing Nielsen data on sales. If the product was a loss leader then it's not a "win" IMO.

  2. karimkanji says:

    David,

    You say it was a failure but you use only opinion and not facts. What about the increase in sales that was reported? Would love your thoughts and analysis on this.

    kk

  3. dbinkowski says:

    Well, they quickly rushed to the trades to justify their campaign and reported sales were up. However, the fact that the product is also heavily discounted wasn't really mentioned. In a crap economy, cheapest product wins, not "those with the most tweets".

  4. […] concede that such an approach may get a lot of attention on the Web, but: does that translate into true value for […]

  5. No hot guy on a horse is going to change the fact that it smells like crap. I agree that it was aimed at the wrong crowd. No doubt, it's funny and somewhat entertaining, but would it make me or my husband (who buys his own darn body wash and deo) go out and buy it? No way. They were banking on stats (and maybe rightfully so) that women do all the household buying. So maybe I should be offended that Old Spice thought I'd be so swayed by the sexy man to run out and buy it for mine.I've heard differing numbers on whether this campaign actually did well or not, but overall, I think it did well for brand awareness, but changing what's been ingrained in our heads over the years "Old Spice is for old dudes," I still think that.

  6. Kelly Whalen says:

    The news that it didn't turn into sales was prior to the latest viral campaign. Based on what I read the 7% down figure was from June 2009-2010. The past month Nielsen reported a growth of 107% in sales.Despite getting the facts mixed up (don't worry not blaming you-it's going around!), I understand your points, but have to disagree.I'm the one that does the shopping for almost everything in the house including my husband's body wash, and it's what I picked up while I was in the store this week mainly because of the campaign.I'm betting they will do the donation, since Alyssa did use her vast following, and time to respond to the campaign.I would welcome an Old Spice guy appearance at BlogHer, though I'm sure it would cause mass hysteria.

  7. Kelly Whalen says:

    The news that it didn't turn into sales was prior to the latest viral campaign. Based on what I read the 7% down figure was from June 2009-2010. The past month Nielsen reported a growth of 107% in sales.Despite getting the facts mixed up (don't worry not blaming you-it's going around!), I understand your points, but have to disagree.I'm the one that does the shopping for almost everything in the house including my husband's body wash, and it's what I picked up while I was in the store this week mainly because of the campaign.I'm betting they will do the donation, since Alyssa did use her vast following, and time to respond to the campaign.I would welcome an Old Spice guy appearance at BlogHer, though I'm sure it would cause mass hysteria.

  8. Yeah, because all forms of marketing and branding are about selling products within weeks of exposure. Or not. This is a long term game.

  9. Soup says:

    I bought deodorant today and laughed when I saw the Old Spice. I didn't buy it because I don't like how it smells. Simple as that. Loved the campaign though. Being entertaining doesn't make me want to buy your product unless your product is entertainment.

  10. c2cmom says:

    Yes, the success should be tied to sales and business impact, and ditto quikness. I disagree that they missed their mark and audience. Old Spice succeeded in resurrecting a tired product to hotness. Hot guy with sense of humor = sexy for millions of wives and girlfriends across the country. While Twitter and YouTube are immediate mediums, the use of deodorant and bodysoap have a slower cycle, and are not purchased on a daily basis, like say, coffee, which could be measured and evaluated within maybe a week. Besides, who purchases deodorant or body soap for most households? 😉 Old Spice at BlogHer makes a lot of sense to buoy the brand and continue the buzz among the women purchasing the wash.Mark, if that's the case, I bet there are millions of 20-something or 30-something year old gals with subliminal memories of the security and manliness of their dads with Old Spice. As right or wrong as that may be . . .;-) On the other hand, that could also be why they weren't focusing on the scent in this campaign to reinvigorate the brand.Either way, when I was on a panel about why and when moms choose to talk about brands and products via social media at the Yahoo! Mother Board Summit last week, as soon as I mentioned the Old Spice campaign, the room of 60 educated and thoughtful women from around the country – many of whom I imagine have disposable income – lit up momentarily. Sharing hubbies and old boyfriends whom used it, laughing about the different videos. Bullseye. Ya know what else? I actually stopped to check it out (price, scent, ingredients) while at CVS for cotton balls today. Not proud. Not ashamed either.

  11. dbinkowski says:

    Shouldn't the goal always tie back to sales? The rest is just noise and stuff that the trades and award-givers go nuts for.

  12. Marc Meyer says:

    Maybe we need to hear from P&G or Wieden. What was the purpose? If it was Buzz only-then it was a home run. If it was to drive sales to a product that still smells the same as it did when my Dad wore it..then we know the answer. Riddle me this, how much of this social blitz was actually about the product?

  13. quikness says:

    I was at a roundtable discussion recently where i brought up the report that this campaign hasn't translated into sales and got a pretty good response from one of the other attendees: deodorant or soap isn't something you rush out to buy. You buy it when you run out.If Old Spice can keep this train rolling for another month or two they just might get the sales uptick they're ultimately looking for. And by all accounts, that seems to be what they are trying to do. Its like an all out assault.

  14. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by David Binkowski, Jim Joseph and Daniel Snyder, Shamable. Shamable said: Published a new blog post: Old Spice Social Media Buzz Doesn't Equal Sales http://bit.ly/aFy8FR […]

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