A pharmaceutical mashup – Vitamints

Sometimes a startup just make sense. Logical in hindsight to the point where it feels like we should have done it.

Vitamints is one such startup. It is what it says – Vitamins which are also mints.

This Australian startup has taken some really clever insights to form the basis of the product format and it goes a little deeper than vitamins that taste nice. They found that houses were graveyards for half used vitamin bottles (I know mine is!!). The basic idea was to get vitamins out of the kitchen cupboard and into peoples pockets, like gum. So why not package it like gum? Why not make it taste nice? Why not distribute it in more convenient locations?

They did.

And aside from the fact that mints in convenience stores are almost the fastest growing impulse purchase, Vitamints taps beautifully into the mobile society we now live in. Your vitamins now live in your pocket people. Sounds a bit like a classic web mashup business, but in an old tired category. Once again industry incumbents need to take a lesson from an innovative new business – maybe that’s why I like it so much.

I can’t wait to read about them getting bought out by a multinational pharmaceutical company in 10 years time.


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.