How Old Spice Used Twitter Plus Television to Draw Clicks

Last Updated Jul 29, 2010 10:49 PM EDT

Old Spice (PG) combined the real time power of Twitter with the production quality of television yesterday to create an entirely new form of advertising. Video of the company's hunky spokesman replying to the Tweets of celebrities and nobodies were posted to YouTube throughout the day and racked up over 4 million views in under 24 hours, with the clicks still rolling in.

It won't be possible to recreate this success, because this campaign was the first of its kind. "If the message that comes out of this is that you can make TV commercials in 30 minutes, then we're all out of a job," joked Ian Tait, the man behind the Old Spice campaign. "We're operating on Internet time but with a level of quality you'd get on a TV slot. That combination got peoples' attention."

Tait, a creative director at marketing agency Wieden + Kennedy, generated the incredible response by straddling the worlds of pop culture fans and online geeks. The deodorant's popular spokesman, Old Spice Man, made videos directed at stars like Perez Hilton, Alyssa Milano and Ryan Seacrest. But the campaign also recognized the influence of tech celebs like Digg founder Kevin Rose, Gawker blog Gizmodo and the anonymous hackers at web forum 4chan.
Mere mortals were also treated to personal replies. Hundreds of thousands of Twitter users sent in personal messages, hoping they would be selected for the next shout out. Tait and his team understood that successful viral video frequently steers a narrow course between celebrity and obscurity, and they did so to great effect.

According to ReadWriteWeb, several "social media experts" were on hand to monitor mentions of the campaign from across the web and track which of the users responding to Old Spice had the biggest influence in different social networks. The term "social media expert" usually seems suspect, but it's clear the team behind the Old Spice campaign deserves that designation.

Image from Youtube
  • Ben Popper

    Ben Popper writes at the intersection of culture and technology. His work has been published in the NY Times, Washington Post, Fast Company, Rolling Stone, The Atlantic and many others. He lives at www.benpopper.com.