Old Spice has put together one of the most popular ad campaigns of recent memory, especially for a campaign that utilizes the web to spread its message. The Old Spice Man has become a popular figure on television and online. This ad, for example, has been viewed nearly 19 million times (and counting) on YouTube:
And yet, the popularity in viewing has yet to turn into a rise in sales, according to marketing consultant Stephen Denny. Denny writes that those who expected big sales numbers from the highly entertaining campaign forgot some basic rules of marketing, and he believes Old Spice's stumble provides some good lessons for small business owners. He writes at Small Business Trends that the basic rules of marketing remain in place, even in a world where entertaining ads spread in new, faster ways:
There’s nothing wrong with spending money on video aimed at viral success. Go ahead. It might work. And there are many, many people who will tell you how to go down this path. But the real point of spending money at all in business is to get more business, so ensure – regardless of what you’re promised – that everything you do is pointed towards converting that casual viewer into a buyer.
The secret of many successful advertising campaigns is that they can be leveraged in-store or online. Look at the Pepsi Challenge. It wasn’t just a brilliant campaign – every time a consumer walked into the store and saw those two pallets next to each other, the ad replayed in their heads – but the fact that it was running the campaign at all gave Pepsi the opportunity to convince those retail buyers to stack its pallets next to King Coke. Advertising drives merchandising, and merchandising drives sales. Especially when it’s paired with advertising.
Am I being unfair to the Old Spice brand and the agency? No, not really. The campaign ran for six months, and the brand experienced a 7 percent volume decline, with a spike driven by coupons. It lagged many of its competitors in the category. And yet, the campaign is held up as a paragon of marketing genius. Careful there; that’s dangerous talk.
Read Old Spice Revisited: Lessons and Cautions for Small Business here.