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Will Old Spice Commercial and Viral Success Equal Increased Sales?

The commercials are funny and engaging. The rapid video response campaign on YouTube was terrific and stunning in its execution. But the nagging question remains, will it all translate into more sales for Old Spice shower gel among 18-34 year olds?

I’m 41, so funny won’t convince me to use Old Spice

I’ll admit it, I like the commercials. They’re funny, they’re clever, and they make you wonder how the hell they do it. The Old Spice Guy, Isaiah Mustafa, is certainly propelling the Old Spice brand into our mind and garnering a lot of buzz. But when it comes right down to it ñ Old Spice is still the cologne used by my grandfather or maybe his grandfather. Popular culture mocks it, movies and television have consigned it to history as the old guy’s scent. So can funny commercials and viral videos, no matter how brilliant, really change that?

Humor can always break through the clamor of advertising we’re subjected to. Readers in my generation will remember Wendy’s “Where’s the beef?” campaign. It’s a classic. It used humor to accent Wendy’s positioning, their hamburgers were larger and beefier - and therefore better. Wendy’s was rewarded with 20% sales growth from the prior year. For the #3 burger seller, that was impressive. And it caught my attention in the early 80’s - Wendy’s went from a nobody in my mind to somebody. But they weren’t trying to convince me their burger was cool or hip - just that it was bigger. The Old Spice brand suffers a completely different problem. They can’t be “scentier” than the competition. They have to be cooler. They have to capture the youth market and convince them Old Spice shower gel isn’t for their grandpa - it’s for them. And that’s a tall order.

Funny doesn’t always translate into sales.

Take, for instance, Taco Bell’s lackluster experience with their Chihuahua ads. The dog was cute and people walked around saying “Yo quiero Taco Bell” ñ but they didn’t buy the food. From 1997 to 2000 - the Chihuahua era - sales slipped. So funny, recognizable, and talked about didn’t convert to sales. Again, Old Spice isn’t simply trying to sell Old Spice shower gel, they’re trying to change the brand’s perception.

So until P&G’s announces Old Spice product sale figures (P&G reports earnings Aug 3) I remain skeptical. In fact, even if there’s a spike I’ll remain incredulous until a pattern of growth and a changed brand perception is established. Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to see the campaign succeed and sales increase - not because I’ll switch to Old Spice shower gel - but selfishly because I enjoy watching the commercials ñ hey they’re funny.

UPDATE: 7/26/10 - Sales Are Flat or Down…

Unfortunately, AdAge is reporting that the viral buzz didn’t help sales significantly - in fact, it reports the small uptick could be attributed to heavy coupon offers: http://adage.com/article?article_id=145096. Others report sales fell around 7%: http://www.publicradio.org/columns/marketplace/business-news-briefs/2010/07/old_spice_sales_drop_7_despite.html

UPDATE: 8/4/10 - Wieden + Kennedy talks about their Old Spice success

The agency behind the Old Spice spots released a video and talked about how they’ve been successful and how the commercials have monopolized the conversation in the category. And Old Spice, the client, says they’re pleased with the results.

Sorry, but having people talk about your product and follow you on Twitter is not the same thing as having hordes buying your product….so I remain skeptical. Perhaps there is a spike in sales…but is it sustainable? Read more on Ad Freak : http://adweek.blogs.com/adfreak/2010/08/old-spices-agency-flexes-its-bulging-stats.html

Reference:

1) http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3190/is_v18/ai_3234647/

2) http://www.11points.com/Food-Drink/11_Obscure_Taco_Bell_Trivia_Facts

Jul 15, 2010
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