Friday, July 23, 2010
There’s been a rash of controversy about whether the new Old Spice campaign with Isaiah Mustafah, almost universally admired for its audacity and humour, will prove to be successful. There is no doubt that it’s a viral smash hit, but there is critique of the campaign around whether this will translate into increased sales for the brand.
We’d love to know the goals of the campaign as set by the creative and strategy teams who worked on it. Only then, and only in time, do we think it will be possible to evaluate the success of the campaign for the brand. If it turns out that the strategy was weak, the humour most likely won’t pay off.
It’s absolutely true that, as Mark Federman, a researcher at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, notes:
“We collectively in our society like good storytelling. We like cleverness. We like unusual humour and we like humour juxtaposed with surreality.”
It’s absolutely not true that our collective love of funny and clever makes us more likely to buy brands. Not unless it’s tied to smart strategy that gets at our wants and needs. At the end of the day, it’s results that matter. In this case, product sales. Nothing else—neither clever strategy nor sparkling creative—is as important. Briefs that lose track of the broad business goals they are meant to achieve are very likely to fail. Because of this, the relationship that we advocate in our practice is goals drive strategies; strategies drive creative.
Our guess at the strategy behind the new Old Spice campaign is that they’re trying to break out of the deodorant-of-choice-for-the-50+-set box and taking a calculated risk of offending a small share of their current market for the sake of chasing a larger market (a younger segment that is more engaged by viral promotion, say) in the long term. In this case, the current campaign is likely only the first step in a larger repositioning strategy. We’ll have to watch and see if this is the case.
From our point sample of one (Craig), well, I’ll let Craig say it:
“I can say for sure that I have not given a moment’s thought to Old Spice for many, many years but I certainly have done since this campaign launched. I’m not troubled by the campaign in any way and admire the creative execution a lot. So does this improve my opinion of the brand? You bet. Does it make me more likely to buy an Old Spice product this month or next? No way. But does it lay a foundation for me to understand the brand in a different way and possibly buy in the future? Maybe.”
Interessado, as we say around here (very cleverly).