Thursday, July 15, 2010

Old Spice, W+K and the Invention of Real Time Advertising

If you haven't heard about the Old Spice campaign from the brilliant minds at Wieden + Kennedy, you must have unplugged yourself from the internet or boycotted all social media outlets. The hilarious, real time social media campaign has taken the internet by storm, confounding industry creatives with the speed and quantity of responses.

If you're unfamiliar with the campaign, here's the gist. Old Spice has a character called Isaiah Mustafa (from their TV spots) who has nice abs (and knows it), sits around in a towel all day charming ladies (and gents) in that cheesy, suave ladies man kind of way. What W+K did was make this character instantly accessible by having 30 to 60 second videos of him posted to YouTube that actually answered questions and comments from consumers that were posted on Twitter and Facebook (and even Yahoo! Questions)—in real time.

It's a campaign that's taken social media advertising to an entirely new level. Instead of using Twitter and Facebook to mostly respond to crises or user comments and complaints, or even to sometimes run a contest or game, it's actually letting users interact with a brand's character via video. Everyone in the industry marveled at the mere ability to turn around cleverly written videos so quickly. W+K isn't revealing all their secrets behind the productions, but W+K's global interactive creative director, Iain Tait, sheds a little light on their process in this Fast Company post. They were able to produce nearly 100 custom spots in a day based on their plan and strategy for a quick turn around. There's been much speculation as to how they wrote so quickly. I'm guessing some of the situations he acts out were already pre-written with props that went with them and just tweaked to be customized, but some of the responses and definitely written on the fly—like the response to taming wild whales. At any rate it feels like customized, real time responses like the Burger King Subservient Chicken campaign did years ago. It's just revamped and on a new level and actually responding in real time, to some extent anyway, where the Subservient Chicken was more or less very cleverly written code and video. Like the Subservient Chicken campaign did years ago, it's also blown the current standards of internet interaction with your customers out of the water and given agency creatives everywhere a brilliant social media campaign to aspire to. Bravo!

Sadly, the responses have ended after two days of custom replies—Mr. Mustafa has to sleep sometime you know—but is this the new social media advertising of the future? Would a stunt like this ever work quite as well again?

The spots range from responses to the likes of Demi Moore and Alyssa Milano and @biz (the founder of Twitter) to a marriage proposal (she said yes). If you haven't seen the videos check out the YouTube channel or some of the ones I've selected below. They'll give you a good laugh.


Jamey Stegmaier said...

I agree that this is a very clever campaign, as well as the birth of real-time advertising. But, I wonder, would it work if Old Spice Man wasn't an already established campaign? I could take off my shirt and set up a camera to answer questions about Blank Slate Press, but the only people who would tweet about it would be my coworkers telling me to put my shirt back on.

Christine said...

I think it could have worked without being an already established campaign (I wasn't familiar with the commercials prior to the social media campaign) but I don't think it would have worked if it wasn't already an established brand. That would be the struggle in doing something like this for a new company like Blank Slate Press.

What I also found interesting, though I didn't include it in the post, is how this campaign seems to have really affected Old Spice's brand image. I saw a couple tweets from 30-something men saying they associated Old Spice with being their father's brand, but might try it now. The whole cutting edge, social media aspect (as well as the type of humor employed) changed Old Spice into a more 'hip' brand.