Rebranding is a big challenge for a brand. Uniqueness is key in industries where the amount of competition is killing. Brands must connect emotionally with their target audience to stand out. In 2010 Old Spice introduced a campaign as the brand was seeking for a new fresh brand image after decades implementing the same message. The result is one of the most successful campaigns in history. An example of a 75 years old company that reinvent and sustain itself via the use of social media.
Back when Old Spice was the brand ‘your grandfather smelled like’
Old Spice is an established brand specialized in men’s personal care products and what is on shelves across America since 1938. In 2003 the brand introduced body wash for men. The body wash products of Old Spice were not very successful the first years. One of the main reasons for this was that the brand was associated with legacy and confident, more mature, men. They were the brand ‘where your grandfather smelled like’. A big part of their target audience was however younger than 50 and was for this reason not buying Old Spice men body wash products. By 2009 Old Spice’s competition had become so strong that the share in the male body wash market was declining.
Dove Men+Care vs. Old Spice
In 2010 Unilever announced the launch of a huge campaign of Dove Men+Care which would be broadcasted during the Super Bowl that year. Dove, one of Old Spice’s biggest competitors in the male body wash market, got a great opportunity now to win a big piece in the market of men care products. Old Spice had to take action to generate excitement among new target groups, win the battle of the buzz during the Super Bowl and eventually gain more market share.
The three objectives of the rebranding campaign of Old Spice were:
- Appeal their product to a younger target group.
Win the battle in the buzz with Dove; they needed a campaign that was exciting for the target audience to buy Old Spice body wash instead of Dove Men+Care.
Encourage the body wash sales and to gain a bigger share in the market.
The New Face of Old Spice
The result was a campaign with the slogan ‘Smell like a man, man’. The face of the campaign is Isaiah Mustafa ‘the man your man could smell like’, a man with a lot of charisma who connected with a younger audience. Old Spice re-positioned itself in the market as a brand associated with legacy and confident young men.
The launch of the campaign
Old Spice introduced their campaign as Dove during the time of the Super Bowl in 2010. Since Dove was the brand who was actually broadcasting their commercials during the Super Bowl weekend it had more potential to succeed in the first place. So how could the Old Spice campaign battle with the competition without being actually broadcasted during the Super Bowl? What they did is the following:
They appeared a few days before the Super Bowl on YouTube and Facebook and started building a buzz with their fans.
The next thing they focussed on was the search strategy for the videos. They used words as ‘Commercial Super Bowl’ to help drive traffic over the Super Bowl weekend.
The Old Spice campaign climaxed when the Super Bowl weekend was finished. The commercial on television was first broadcasted only 24 hours later. By that time a lot of people assumed that the commercial was debuted during the Super Bowl. Their strategy to win the buzz during the event succeeded.
The Response Campaign
Finally they challenged themselves with engaging on a next level with the target audience. They discovered that the campaign was such a success that they had to come up with something to keep the conversation going online and offline. They introduced a new campaign to get responses for the audience on video which was called the ‘Response Campaign’. The following happened:
Within 2,5 day the new face of Old Spice, Isaiah Mustafa, recorded personalized messages to fans who responded on social media or YouTube.
Among the recorded videos also big influencers were approached such as Ellen DeGeneres and Perez Hilton, who had shown interest in the campaign.
However their strategy was to make the campaign inclusive and inviting and thus 70% of the videos were responses for ‘Plane Janes’.
The campaign and the repositioning of the brand has been very successful. First of all during the Super Bowl weekend the brand has won the battle of the buzz with Dove Men+Care. 76% of the online buzz was controlled by the brand the first three months after its launch. On YouTube they gained more than 10 million views on the ‘The man your man could smell like’ commercial. This is 10 times more the amount of viewers for Dove’s Super Bowl commercial.
The ‘Response’ campaign had some incredible results as well and it drove massive amounts of engagement for the brand:
On the first day of the event the campaign received 5.9 million viewers on YouTube. To make a comparison: this was more viewers than Obama’s victory speech after 24 hours.
On the second day the brand was controlling the top 11 most popular videos on YouTube with 8 of its videos in that list.
In just one month their YouTube subscribers more than doubled from 65,000 subscribers to 150,000, their Facebook gained 60% more fans, on Twitter their amount of followers increased 2700%(!) and the brand became the #1 All-Time Most Viewed and #2 Most Subscribed Branded YouTube Channel.
Their sales exceeded the expectations. By May of 2010 the Old Spice unit sales had increased with 60% and by July of that year the sales had increased more than doubled compared to the previous year. See the image here below.
The Social Media Marketing lessons we learned from Old Spice
The Old Spice campaign grabbed the attention of a new generation and succeeded in connecting with them. The brand has proven itself to be long-lasting and successful in the industry. They have become a case study in how to do rebranding right. But what exactly is it what they did that created this success?
- Short Videos
The rule is for online marketing videos is that they should not be longer than 2 minutes. The videos from Old Spice were mostly not longer than 1 minute and the shortest was only 17 seconds. The brand took ‘snappy’ to a next level!
Easy shareable content
Their videos were introduced at first on YouTube and Facebook instead of launching it offline; this made it very easy for people to share their content.
Searchable marketing content
As Old Spice published their videos both online and offline, it was very easy for people to look them up and watch them again. Publishing online and offline gives your target audience the opportunity to search for your content and watch it on demand.
Old Spice introduced their campaign on Facebook and Youtube, they were on television only a few days later and they created a Twitter account in the meantime: They were everywhere. By doing this you spread the chances that everybody sees your content as for people who are not on Facebook can watch it on Youtube or television and for people who don’t watch television can see your content online, and so on.
Real time responses
Quickly after the success of the campaign became clear, the marketing team recorded within two-and-a-half day 186 videos in which Isaiah Mustafa responded on fans’ comments. They decided on making videos rather than only responding with Tweets to add an entertainment factor. Keep the conversation going with your target group by quickly responding to them via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or any other channel you are approaching them.
- Other people’s and other media’s networks
When Isaiah Mustafa replied with a video on Ellen Degeneres and Perez Hilton their comments, it was broadcasted to millions of their fans on their shows networks. Give influencing people with large networks the attention they want and they will spread your content.
- Social media to active mass media
Mass media will pick up your content from social media if your content is of great value. Especially when it is entertaining and contains humour.
- Pumping content
Old Spice produced more than 100 videos with only 4 scriptwriters, 1 camera man and a half naked Isaiah Mustafa. Don’t wait for your post to be perfect because the chance is rather small to let that happen.
- Engage on a personal level
A quote from one of the writers of the Old Spice campaign is: “No one expects to ask a question and then be responded to. I think that’s where we broke through”.
Old Spice surprised and amazed their target audience by responding to comments on Twitter with personal videos.