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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Going Viral Doesn't Always Make Things Better - Why You Still Need to be Smart with Social Media

A bottle of Old Spice cologne.Image via Wikipedia
Everyone has seen that the very successful viral campaign for Old Spice has been a bust where it counts - the bottom line.  Sales for the targeted product- Red Zone body wash are down 7% over the last 52 weeks but this doesn't seem to match with the unbelievable viral success of the Old Spice Guy campaign and it's engagement within the social media networks.

Anyone in the marketing profession can learn from this. In the end we all have to remember we are selling something and that for advertising to be effective it needs to, at a base level, A. reach the target group and B. engage this group.

To me the Old Spice Guy campaign was a success at reaching the 25 - 40 demographic, but this isn't the demogrpahic that wants to be assocaited with the Old Spice Brand.   I remember getting the Old Spice bottle in my stocking when I was 12 years old, it was the after-shave of my father who still used the Old Spice soap as his shaving cream.  It was a very exciting time for me but today I would be caught dead with that scent.

In the end the product didn't match what consumers were looking for, especially the consumers that were engaged with the Old Spice Guy. In the end it might have been better for the people at P&G to come up with a new product that fits in right after you grow out of the Axe family of products.  The campaign would have still worked and the product could have been matched to the demographic that fell in love with the campaign.

So in the end two key learnings- 1. Make sure your product targets the demographic your advertising is targeting (and that you have a good product, great advertising doesn't make up for a poor product) and 2. Next time your agency, marketing team, or anyone else comes in with that killer viral integrated strategy ask this one question - How will this engage my target consumer to sell more products?  - If they don't already have this fully mapped out (and it can't be - we will generate tens of millions of impressions on Youtube!) then it probably is more about becoming viral then about selling products...

Update July 27th:  Seems that over the last month sales of Old Spice have increased by 107% according to a brand manager at P&G sharing Nielson Data.   I guess that I was wrong on matching the Old Spice product to the market that was engaging the campaign online.  But I still think the gist of the post is still valid - just don't use Old Spice as the example...;-)

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