Old Spice: Campaign of the decade?

Everyone loves the Old Spice campaign, how can you not, he’s on a horse! But the reasons why it is so great are probably more important than how great it really is. For anyone who has been living under a rock, the original advertisement deservedly won the Gold Lion at Cannes this year. You can watch it below:


I think we can all agree it is brilliant. The reasons are many and include the fact that the only promise is what the product will actually deliver, it pokes fun at the category norms and general communication, yet the humour and idea is inextricably linked to the product. In addition it’s one of the few product types where a global message can actually work. In general most global campaigns are obviously made for multiple markets and banal as a result. This was an exception.

The next iteration of the campaign is what put into the consideration set for campaign of the decade. The lead character in the advertising campaign AKA the ‘old spice man’ had a voice and tone which was was unique. He didn’t cannibalize the brand idea, just extend it and give it strength. The actor playing the role Isaiah Mustafa personified the brand, to the point where he could almost say anything and it would work. Knowing this the brand team and advertising agency decided to embark on a semi-live advertising campaign featuring his monologues. It involved setting up studio for a two-day session creating a series of humorous, personalized YouTube videos, with Mustafa reprising the character from the original Old Spice commercial. These were directed at members of the public and celebrities, who had asked him questions on websites such as Reddit, Facebook and Twitter.

It was so slick, so entertaining and brand extending it took a lot of convincing before I believed they were shooting it live. I even tweeted that there was no way this could be live. Just too slick. I was wrong and stoked to be wrong. What they did was set up a studio with Mustafa some props and the copy writers from the agency and they pumped out a TVC every 11 minutes, answering questions posed by key influencers on a few core social networks. Extreme trust by the brand owner Proctor & Gamble was given, which is a massive hat tip to such a large organisation embracing chaos, opportunity and potential risk. Let’s hope that other equally conservative brand stewards take the lead from P & G and let set boundaries instead of requiring approval. You can read more about how they did it here.

The proof of the success goes beyond eyeballs. Of which they generated plenty, in fact the dominance they had over the Youtube most watched page is something I’ve never seen in the 5 years Youtube has been around. They did have well over 110 million views of various executions.

But far more importantly Old Spice has doubled it’s sales since the campaign hit the web. Up 107% currently (Nielsen) though I’m not sure if much coupon or price activity is behind it, you’d have to say the campaign was the biggest driver in a category that has growth below 10% per annum.

What does this all mean?

If any old world marketers have any doubt about the power of the web as a tool should stop and consider for a few moments what has just happened here. It also tells us that old media and new media are clearly ‘better together’. And lastly, brands who want to get the best results have to let go, forget about control and understand that moderating a message will only ever dilute the results.


You’re in good company

This blog is an example of compound effort. Yes, just like interest, effort compounds too. In the 4 years I’ve been writing it every month the readership has increased. With no real marketing of the blog. Just good solid writing, be open and honest, sharing insights, and letting the wondrous SEO of wordpress do the rest on Google for me. A few things worth considering if you’re into blogging and want to build an audience.

  • I have written 1 blog entry for every day this blog has been live. Consistency and frequency matter.
  • Every entry is on the same topic. Startups and Entrepreneurship. I stay focused by having one of these two words in every entry.
  • I love the topic my blog is about. I find it fascinating and would still write it if nobody was reading.
  • 70% of my traffic is Long Tail, which means that every entry increases my total traffic flow.
  • It taught me more about digital media and the internet that anything else I have done.

Of all things I have done in my career writing this blog has generated the most value. It has documented my thoughts, improved my thinking, built discipline, created a reputation, generated media coverage for rentoid, launched me as a business journalist in other business magazines, it places me number 1 in Google searches for the term startup blog in every country in the world and has built friendships and helped others.

If you read this blog regularly you are among 70,000 other people every month. So you’re in good company. Thanks for reading.


Q & A – New Media and Small Business

I was asked to answer a few questions at a talk I gave last week at the Nationwide Networking Event. It was aimed at Small businesses with the topic about new media and the advantages of being small. I thought it was a nice snippet of ideas worth sharing here.

Q: What type of changes can we expect from media in 2010 and how do we need to prepare for it as business professionals?

A: Media will fragment further, it’s increasingly like fashion with new ideas appearing daily. The art of value, like with fashion is by going with the classics and choosing the right style for the brand you want to build. Match your environment, by being involved in the right channels.

Q: Where do you see the role of the blog in the future?

A: Increasingly important. Blogs are a trusted source, because bloggers become, or are an expert on their topic of choice. This is because all good blogs are topic specific. And people want to deal with experts.

Q: What can we expect from the evolution of twitter and our capacity to use it as a marketing medium?

A: If we use it as a marketing medium we’ve already lost. It’s a conversation…. Conversation can turn into business, but it is primarily a conversation. First we need to be a resource. A resource to others, from which we can build trust and valued relationships. These may eventually lead a business relationship.

Q: What trends are coming from America that we need to be aware of?

A: Trends are global now. We don’t have to look overseas to see it. Things arrive simultaneously. It’s not like it was 20 years ago where our friends return from sojourns overseas to tell us all about the cool things they saw, and we have to wait for them to appear in our market a few years later. Now it’s on our desktop the day it happens. This is been further facilitated by web tools such as Springwise, Twitter and Youtube.

Q: How do we (small business people) benefit from the changes in the media landscape?

A: Barriers to entry have been removed so anyone can play. But it requires a long term consistent effort. New media requires a low financial investment, and large human capital input. Where as old media requires a large financial investment with little human effort. At least now we have to choice. In addition large companies have been (so far) pretty bad at using new media. It creates an advantage for us.

Q: How can we better utilize technology tor reduce our costs and increase our profits?

A: Shift from being doers, to becoming project managers. Outsource where ever possible. It’s easier now with all the tools we have at our disposal like elance and skype. Why do we even need an office? Is it because we need to, or because we don’t trust the people we work with?

Q: Your blog has 50,000 readers a month, how did you do that?

A: Two simple things. One blog entry every day. Staying on topic (entrepreneurship / startups). Then wordpress and Google did the rest. It’s not a trick, it just takes consistent effort.

Q: What is the meaning of micro brand building and how would it be relevant to soloprenuers?

A: Build your personal brand first. That’s the first part of micro branding, becoming known for something. Having a skill you can share with others. Then eventually cross fertilize to your business brand.

Q: What are the simplest things we can do to build a micro brand?

A: Have a tight focus area of interest. Share our lessons honestly and openly. Frequency of output.

Q: How do we protect our brands?

A: Not with IP and legal stuff…. Most of that is a simple waste of money.  We protect it with customers, innovation and reliability.

Q: What one piece of advice would you give to those of us that need clients and need them quickly?

A: Cold call. Not on the phone, but turn up and talk.

Q: What books have influenced  you?

The Cluetrain Manifesto

The Purple Cow

The art of the start

22 Laws of marketing

Q: What marketers / speakers have influenced you?

A: Steven Wright (comedian) he taught me how to flip my perspective for alternative solutions.


The end of television

There’s been a lot of talk about the end of television lately. You’ve heard it all. But one simple fact I heard today reminded me today of why television is doomed.

The end of the ratings period.

Yep, that old chestnut. But let’s stop and think for moment what it means and the legacy issues associated with the concept of the rating and non-rating periods.

It was something television could do. It could ‘have a holiday’. It could do this for one simple reason, it had no real competitors. TV broadcasters justified their actions too. They told us that their TV stars needed a break. They told us they were getting ready for the new season with great new episodes and shows. They told us we could enjoy our favourite re-runs. Sure we could go down the the video rental store, but it was much harder than turning on a television and a poor substitute at best.

Today, the end of the ratings period is a continued legacy which proves that broadcasters still don’t get it. We don’t care what time of year it is, we don;’t have to. We still spend money. The economy keeps churning. We still want current, new, exciting information and entertainment. Good news for us is that now we can go elsewhere to get it. And it’s more convenient than TV. It’s on demand, and uninterrupted. The fact that the ratings period still exists today has me flummoxed.

And as long as the television broadcasting industry thinks it can get away with it’s ‘holiday’, it is yet to understand what is happening. It alone is proof TV as an industry, is doomed. This little thing, the non-ratings period, is proof they don’t believe that is the end of their cosy little attention monopoly.

Good bye television, hope you enjoyed your stay.


Building a web community

I was asked during one of my live twitcam sessions the title of this blog entry, with the number 3 in front of it. What are 3 things needed to build a web community. This is the answer I came up with right on the spot.

  1. Participate
  2. Share
  3. Keep costs low

Participate: Use the service, website and community you are building. Be an avid user and of it yourself, even though you own it or built it. I use rentoid more than anyone and love it. You are not part of a community if you are a spectator. You need to be involved in it. Listen, create, help, assist, but not rule over. It’s not a kingdom or a principality, it’s a community, which means that all participants are equal regardless of their status. It doesn’t matter, if you are the customer or the creator of the community, everyone matters. It should be evident in the organic dynamics that all of the community are valued. everyone has something to offer and add that we can all benefit from.

Share: Share not because you expect something back. Share because we are all humans, and this is how humans roll. We are great at being there for each other a providing support. Doing stuff for the benefit of others for reasons that go beyond the financial. it was once said that the perfect day is the day you help someone who will never have the chance to repay you.

Keep costs low: Not for any economic reason, other than building things of incredible value like communities take time. If you build an expensive infrastructure for your community there will be too much financial pressure on making it work quickly, and communities don’t work like that. They are organic and take time to find a balance and set of values and systems. If you have too much cost associated with what you are doing, your behaviour will become non-community like. It just wont work.

Startup Blog says, Start building.

Viral marketing & probability

I’ve spoke before about the truth about viral marketing, and our probability of viral marketing success. So here’s some number to help us all quantify it with the viral marketing haven that is Youtube.

  • The average youtube video gets watched for 6 seconds.
  • 2 hours of video are uploaded every minute.
  • Almost half the videos on youtube get viewed less than 10 times. (1 in 2.4)
  • Only 0.25% of videos get more than 10,000 views
  • A random sample of 10,000 videos uploaded received the following: 2,226 videos with no views in their first month, 237 with 1 view, 158 with 10 views, and just 23 with 100.
  • Only 1 in 3.1 million videos will get more than 1 million views

Sure we can increase our chances by creating great content, and frequency of posts. But getting a viral hit is like winning the lotto. Which for startups means it’s fine to play, but not to back our future on it.