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.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Why, Y?

If you haven't already heard, the YMCA has officially embraced its nickname The Y (note the web address though). Maybe it's just me, but I don't love that idea as much as I think I should. It becomes less personable when it's the real name and not a generally accepted nickname. They could have just made it an official nickname or slogan or something and kept the official name. I mean future generations eventually won't know what the song YMCA is referring to! (kidding)

The naming aside, the Y also updated their logo. Interestingly enough, their new logo actually has YMCA in it (as well as a tacked on 'the') where the old logo was just a Y, which is partly how it got its nickname. So now that YMCA is no longer the official name, it's suddenly important enough to include in the logo? It's a little odd, don't you think?

Parts of the new logo are okay. Parts of it are not. As Brand New stated in their review,
The evolution is clear: From a hard-angled, tough-looking logo to a round-edged, soft-looking logo that plays well with the rest of the identities of the twenty-first century in pretty much all capacities. It is bubblier, it is lowercase, it has gradients, and it comes in various flavors. Unfortunately, all of the changes feel a tad gratuitous in the final execution.
In other words, it has a genericized early 21st century look to it. Notice the soft pillow gradients that were rather needlessly applied? They complement the rounded corners so well. (gag) Nothing against rounded corners, but that combo appears in 90% of all web icons and is far too generic and over-used to actually be used in a logo. Yuck. I do like the logo better when it's presented in one color. Then it just a modification of the shape, which works much better I think. 

Even without the cliche pillow gradients, the color choices are very questionable. We have lots of options. It kind of reminds me of the 2012 London Olympics logo in that way—although the designers of this logo clearly didn't remember all the bad press the London logo got for it's 80's neon color schemes. They may vary, but they're all pretty bright, and very trendy, colors. Not the best idea for long term branding. I suppose they're trying to make the logo young and hip, but 5-10 years from now those colors will be anything but hip. The 2012 logo can kind of get away with it simply because it's meant to be trendy to the times and after the Olympics it'll be outdated anyway—a keepsake to the time and place of the event. But that's not the the same for a brand, so the trendiness reflects poor long term judgment. Especially for a brand that's been as iconic as the original Y logo. Yes, it needed some updating—it screamed retro 60's, but still, those new colors are quite the leap.