Want Your Ad to Go Old-Spice Viral? You’re More Likely to Develop Abs Like Isaiah Mustafa.

When I see my sweet AdAge pour more gas on the “Old-Spice goes viral” story, I feel like it’s time to remind my fellow marketers that they’ve got a better shot of developing (the shirtless actor) Isaiah Mustafa‘s abs than getting their TV or online-video spot viral.

Your man will never look like me, and your video will never go as viral.

This is another excellent example of the exception not the rule. Old-Spice’s dramatization is funny, slick, self-deprecating and memorable. Like other viral commercials, it stands out. It’s worthy of the 5 plus million views. But remember that people as obscure as me (nalts) with smaller audiences than me can fetch that each month. The one-hit wonder has given way to the webstars that are now building sustainable audiences, and they’ll promote your brand for less than it cost to groom Isaiah’s horse.

Now ask your friends and family to tell you the last time they sent or received a link to a commercial. Not your buds in the agency and marketing circles, but your friend next door that doesn’t understand what the hell you do for a living.

Television ads occasionally go viral, but viral is largely dead. We’re still seeing some twitches from the corpse, but the age of viral commercials will not see a resurgence. If you don’t believe me, read Beyond Viral when it comes out in a month or so (it’s already on Amazon, so I have bragging rights on that).

Maybe after a few more Benson & Hedges and my pension, I'll hear this damned machine's alarm. Wait, never mind. I sold my hearing aid for my third Scotch.

Now you read this, but like an elderly, smoking woman in Vegas, you’ll still play the odds. That’s fine. Just don’t bet the farm, eh? And hedge the bet- step away from the roulette table now and then and try the nickel slots.

8 Replies to “Want Your Ad to Go Old-Spice Viral? You’re More Likely to Develop Abs Like Isaiah Mustafa.”

  1. Oh you’re brilliant Kevin. I’m going to buy your book. Shoot- I forgot to login one of my sock comment accounts. Screw it.

  2. I like to think that we cost a *bit* more than Isaiah’s horse’s grooming.

    It just seems so beautifully easy when you see laid out like this. But it’s not, nor was it, I’m sure, a simple thing for the people at P&G to be persuaded into. There was the initial viral ad, a couple of lackluster follow ups, and then the real genius of actually engaging socially in an interesting way.

    If anything, that’s what marketers need to be learning, not that they can still go viral if they get lucky, but that what people respond to is person engagement from the brand to the people. And that can be done in a lot of ways, not all of which involve horses. Sometimes all you need is Rhett and Link.

    Frankly, just the prospect of Old Spice Man responding to my tweets makes me more interested in buying that body wash…though, to be fair, I’ve always been an old spice man.

  3. Old Spice reminds me of Dad, who, if you read Nalts’ tweets, is dead. Justin Bieber got more YT hits than Lady Gaga, which proves that YT is so random that it can make anyone, or anything, even smelly body wash, famous. For a day, at least.

  4. I don’t think you’re being completely fair to the creators of this Old Spice phenomenon. This wasn’t just another TV commercial that happened to go viral. You appear to be ignoring the huge social media component of this ad campaign. Did you miss all the individual responses they made to various people?

    Also, someone like you may get 5 million views per month, but what percent of those views are valuable to a potential advertiser? Your most viewed sponsored video (AFAIK) is about three years old and has yet to reach 1 million views. According to my calculations, Old Spice has gotten well over 30 million views on their videos in the last two weeks and that’s solely on YouTube. (Of course conversion rates are what really matter, but not so easily measured.)

    With some brilliant planning and hard work, “going viral” may not be as much of a gamble as you make it out to be. With some smarts and hard work those abs are achievable too.

  5. I agree with Alexis, the interaction really pulled me in – reminded me of the old days of theshow; trying to say the most clever and in tune things to get mentioned the next day. There’s sort of a secret science to it actually.

    Interaction works! and what I thought social media was all about, but Kevin’s right, that’s changing; another day another topic, going beyond viral 😉

    I did enjoy this campaign by Old Spice, so much so I was almost ready to engage in an impulse buy [though the fragrance reminds me of old men trying to cover the smell of beer and cigarettes on Sunday morning (I think Freebreeze has replaced it) or as a cheap Christmas gifts for the unexpected guest. bottle’s cool looking though.]

    If internet people don’t engage with their audience – and that’s a lot of work – feeeeergetit. Even Hugo Chavez figured that out – thought he has several people tweeting for him. but imagine how many people think it’s actually him?!

    People want to connect with other people, it’s built in and makes us all smile. The smart thing about the Old Spice campaign was they didn’t let it go on too long. If they did they would start to lose support; the audience is very fickle. They understand picking at random, but if people are invested they will only contribute for so long. It’s a strange balance and the new customer service.

    Why did Old Spice go viral? The commercial on the horse did pretty well on it’s own, I found it on another site several months ago, but it was the interaction that got this product and the guy press on huffpo and the today show, that pushed it over the top.

    As I found out recently, it’s amazing what media exposure will do for you or your product. The question is how to get media attention?

    1. dumb luck
    2. act like a big fool
    3. be consistently consistent
    4. know people in high places
    5. some combination of all of the above

    I want to add find your nitch/audience as well, but I think that comes naturally with media exposure.

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