The Old Spice Television & Social Media Campaign
What does the, by now iconic, Old Spice advertising and social media campaign tell us about branding?<br />I believe it tells us two things that are often neglected in brand management:<br /><ul><li>That understanding a brand and its core values remains one of the cornerstones of brand management.
That integrated brand communications management (IMC), today amplified hugely by social media, remains another cornerstone of brand management. </li></ul>The core values of Old Spice – know who you are and stick to it, yet keep it fresh <br />I remember working on the Old Spice brand about twenty years ago. <br />Even then, Old Spice was not the kind of after shave lotion or deodorant most younger males would use. Yet in its core market it was iconic. It was the generic brand in its category. <br />The brand was old fashioned and inexpensive. This was endorsed by its “crude” plastic and red packaging with an interesting white cap. It had modern packaging for its time, adding some novelty to a category dominated by brands in very ordinary packaging. It was always inexcusably male. Its values endorsed this. Today, it would probably be considered chauvinistic. I remember talking about how we could make the brand appeal to younger users, even then. <br />Old Spice made no excuses for what it was: it was the brand most older males bought.<br />This profile of users was also the one not interested in the new brands that launched at the time (i.e. brands like Aramis): these brands were much more expensive and more “sophisticated” in the imagery they conveyed. They often used black and white photography, soft lighting and beautiful models. They had a distinctive air of “one-upmanship”. The sex appeal was often explicit. Against this, Old Spice was “boring”: it had “no sex appeal” outside of its crude male-ness. In imagery terms it was similar to brands like Malboro or Camel cigarettes. Yet, through its straightforward “male-ness”, it had enormous sex appeal. We also knew the brand was bought for the guys by their wives, mothers and girlfriends, adding to the strong male appeal. Buying a more sophisticated brand would almost “undermine” the male-ness of most guys (“What is my wife trying to tell me?”). <br />The new brands were everything that Old Spice was not. <br />Old Spice believed there would always be a market for its brand – one that is not going to “fall” for the sophisticated imagery and higher price. To the consumers of Old Spice, they needed to smell good, but at a price they were prepared to pay. One can even argue the fragrance of Old Spice was crude compared to the “newcomers”. Yet, this is what its consumers preferred. They could also not associate themselves with the brand campaigns of the new brands - many consumers saw these as effeminate. <br />Within this context its new creative work was conceived: it is still the brand it always was, but its campaign expresses it in a contemporary way. The new campaign has all the elements that make the brand unique. The models are as “male” as “male” can be. Yet, they deliberately make fun of these males in a way most people finds appealing. And whilst it uses “sex appeal”, it does it in a fun and hyperbolic way: right within a contemporary society where the line between the sexes is often blurred. It tells us being male is still “ok” – and that we can laugh at ourselves for some of our mannerisms. It reminds me of the great line Men’s Health used, “Guy stuff”. <br />Old Spice exemplified “guy stuff”. <br />The use of an integrated classic and social media campaign: integrated marketing communications always worked, and still does <br />Forty years after integrated marketing was conceived, it is still rarely used well. Yet, the Old Spice campaign is more proof that it works. More so because social media allows for consumer engagement other media could not do. <br />The campaign make the different media compliment - and multiply the impact – of one another. <br />This is a paradox for a brand like Old Spice. Its traditional older image - a profile within which social media is not an everyday phenomenon like for younger generations - contradicts the extensive use of social media. Yet, by using these media, the brand was brought back “into the light” – far more so than if just television advertising was used. No-one can argue that becoming “engaged” with a brand through social media - and with your friends - is far more impactful and sustaining than just seeing an advertisement on television. It is also cheaper - and more credible as most research will tell us. Social media also separates those “in the know”, from those “outside” - you are either “in” or “out”. <br />Together with exceptional creative work (from an iconic agency), the brand has not only appealed to younger prospects, but would no doubt have enhanced the stature of the brand amongst its older users. It did this by not contradicting the values of the brand, but still making it contemporary: all of a sudden a father using Old Spice was seen as contemporary by his son (“What did you know that I did not know?”). <br />Against a category within which most advertising is dominated by “same-ness”, it reinforces the uniqueness of Old Spice. It does not try too hard, yet achieves more than most by being “ordinary”. <br />We all know most men go through their “naughty forty” years, where they seek a second childhood - fast cars, new clothes and hairstyles - and often even new partners! The new campaign acknowledges all of that.<br />It again demonstrates the value of advertising that expresses “the human truth” about a brand. <br />Long live Old Spice! And long live a client not scared to buy something so unique. <br />Conclusion<br />Know your brand values and what makes it unique, express it in new, exciting creative and media ways. <br />These are still the foundations of good brand management. <br />Old Spice is an exceptional example of this: if it can be done with such an old brand, imagine what many others can do!<br />A question: does the Wimpy campaign is South Africa do that – or not? <br />