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How Old Spice Found The Sweet Smell Of Viral Video Success

In a recent session at SMX East, I discussed “The Five M’s: A roadmap for creating and executing winning YouTube campaigns.” The session dissected multiple layers of genius at work in the Old Spice campaign created and executed by Wieden+Kennedy. So let’s dive in and consider the Five M’s that will keep your YouTube campaigns smelling great.

1. Move

No. You don’t need to “move” from a shower, to a boat, to a horse in one continuous shot. You do, however, need to move your audience emotionally. Start with a clear vision of how you want people to react to your video or interact with your video campaign and create accordingly. Set goals early on, because you’ll want to measure progress against goals to determine success later. Perhaps most importantly, have a story in mind and make sure your videos tell that story. If you plan to extol your brand’s virtues, do so in a humorous, controversial, scary, helpful or other manner that will elicit the type of response you seek.

Old Spice did this extremely well with “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like.” They aimed for a humorous reaction and got it, but the brand also communicated its benefits to its audience and repeatedly drove home the brand name.

Keep quality in mind when setting out to move your audience. Old Spice completed its commercials with one-camera continuous shooting and very little computer generated imagery. This alone caused quite a stir among the public at large with many online discussions swirling around the complexity and reality of the footage.

2. Market

It’s critically important to follow best practices for file creation and optimization. Pixel size, download speeds and desirable video rendering are just a few of the factors to consider before posting videos to ensure that your videos are looked upon favorably by consumers, search engines and video sites. Follow these additional guidelines when creating and optimizing your videos:

  • Just like at home, HD quality video with a 16:9 aspect ratio is best
  • Use Mp4 file format with .h264 compression
  • Audio compression should be MP3 or AAC
  • Display rate 30 frames per second
  • Keep it short and sweet (approximately 2 minutes)
  • Nail your titles
  • Use all of your description (don’t spam)
  • Meta tag the video (don’t spam)
  • Align the optimization (title, description, tags)

Creating a YouTube channel provides a home base for any video campaign and ensures the availability and accessibility of video assets. Then, make it easy to market and share videos and enable social tools—comments, likes, forwards, embedding—everywhere. Currently, Old Spice has more than 200 videos on its YouTube channel and leveraged the right communication channels to create views.

Email, social networks—even in-store point of sales promotions can drive views, but advertising in particular can provide a lot of great opportunities to seed content. Old Spice went all out on this, running its first “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” ad in the 2010 Super Bowl and following that up with on ongoing broadcast barrage, taking the campaign social later in 2010. Less expensive options abound, however, particularly online. YouTube alone offers a wide range of advertising opportunities: home page featured; click to play; in video; watchpage companion; profile channel icons; and audience targeting by interest, geographic location, content type, demographics, etc., not to mention the many cost effective opportunities to advertise online through search, display and other channels.

3. Mobilize

Once the video campaign hits the market, use Twitter, Facebook and other social networks to build and engage audiences. Support consumer discussion and do whatever you can to help the buzz continue to grow and spread.

For one day only, “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” took comments/questions via Twitter and Reddit. He responded to the comments that got the most up votes through YouTube videos, and some of the results were stellar. One user asked the man your man could smell like to provide audio for various phrases, but provided very little detail on his plan. Old Spice delivered the audio as requested and what resulted was the Old Spice voicemail generator, a completely viral adaptation of the man your man could smell like and an entirely different platform over which the branded communications could travel.

While other marketers have done a good job of interacting with the public on the web, Old Spice took the mobilize mantra to a new level. Even Sesame Street got in on the action, spoofing the original commercial with its own take: Smell Like a Monster. So lets just say that the campaign and the people behind it did a great job of mobilizing consumers, news sites, television shows and other organizations.

4. Mingle

Once others have mobilized around the campaign, it’s important for marketers themselves to get involved. Brands often mingle with the public by conducting surveys, asking for input, making their own contributions to contests, etc.

Without question, the most advanced mingling done by the Old Spice team came in July. In fact, Old Spice got more involved than any other brand to date that I’m aware of when the man your man could smell like began taking questions and responding with almost real time custom video responses. The brand/agency team created a war room to execute rapid video responses to questions, complete with copywriters, their go-to actor and direct access to decision makers to keep things moving quickly. The effort resulted in 186 individual video responses and significantly extended the video campaign’s shelf life and fresh factor, creating millions of additional impressions. Celebrities got involved too, with many of the video responses directed to them generating over a million views each: Ellen DeGeneres (1 million), Perez Hilton (1.9 million), Alyssa Milano (1.1 million) and Kevin Rose (1.3 million) among them.

Whether your team wants to go as far as creating individual multimedia responses or simply make a spokesperson available to chat for an hour here or there, be sure to consider the most effective ways for your brand to mingle.

5. Measure

You can’t determine the success of a YouTube campaign without the ability to measure progress against goals. Providing a nice gauge of performance against many basic video metrics, YouTube Insights offers a solid starting point but consider supplementing that with your own, more specific results tracking analytics as necessary.

For anyone sure about goals for their campaigns, here’s a short list of common but measurable and effective types of campaign goals to consider.

  • Improving SERP real estate: How did you fare on brand searches on Google, Bing or others before the campaign, and how did the campaign change SERP performance? Goals should aim to improve your brand’s presence in natural, news, multimedia and other types of search results and should be as specific as possible.
  • Video views or impressions per day, month, etc.
  • Video popularity rankings
  • Growth of social network fans, followers, interactions, etc.
  • Web site traffic.
  • Performance of a campaign’s YouTube channel.
  • Sales growth.
  • Industry brand rankings.

No surprise to the people who watched the campaign unfold or participated directly, the man your man could smell like campaign performed well against a wide array of metrics. The campaign earned almost six million views on day one alone and reached more than 40 million in its first week. The brand’s Twitter following increased 2,700 percent, and its Facebook fan interaction rose 800 percent. Overall web site traffic climbed 300 percent, and the brand’s YouTube channel became the all-time most viewed channel. The campaign generated 1.4 billion impressions in six months, and sales rose 27 percent over six months since launching (YoY). In July alone, sales were up 107 percent.

Mmmmm… that success sure smells great!

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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