If you haven’t seen or heard what Old Spice is doing online…that must be one massive rock you are under. Get out it, will you, please?

Old Spice started it quite innocuously. There was an ad. It was blah, at least in my opinion. Last seen, Kareena Kapoor is doing something mildly similar for a Sony Vaio Vivid campaign in India.

This…is the Old Spice Man ad.

Now, I belong to a generation which will buy Old Spice only if it’s perhaps called New Spice. So, no wonder, I considered it blah. But then, they did something brilliant. The Old Spice Man invited comments and questions on assorted platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube itself…and started answering them (selectively, of course) with a video…each!

So, let’s see what is unique here. The ad is shared online – this is routine. They invite comments and queries – routine again. But, as ReadWriteWeb explains the painstaking details, they respond to queries and comments using customized videos.

This is nothing unique again – there are many instances of live Twitter chat or Facebook chat that have shown that brands can interact in real time, albeit for a specific period of time. So, why did this campaign become incredibly popular then?

As I’ve always said, now sounding like a broken record, it is the content, stupid! (sorry – not you)

Just see/listen to the script (the writing!) in the videos. It is crisp, witty and so well worded, in almost all of them!

That holds the key to the campaign’s success. It is no doubt a humongous effort and involved 11 hours of work without break, but what makes this campaign a massive success is the quality of writing that went into it. That it was all done in real time with little supervision by the client is an operational miracle. And that it was packaged brilliantly in the form of short videos…even more super!

Without smart content, it wouldn’t have spread (virally, if I were to use that oft-abused word) this well. It went viral because people found it worthy enough of recommending and sharing with friends.That comes not from having the idea of doing video responses…or asking people to share comments/questions online…or sitting with a team for 11 hours…or using online promotional tactics to push it out aggressively. That comes from plain, good ‘ol writing. Everything else accentuated the main effort – strong content.

The equivalent of this is all those people who use great content to build and manage online communities – they are interacting too, mostly in real time and using language as a tool to reach out to, console, apologize or even assuage people (members, in community management parlance).

You can get people to sit on your community round the clock. You can get people to track all the brand mentions that Google or any paid tool can throw at you. But you need people with good, smart content creation skills to engage. That is precisely what this Old Spice commercial reiterates, all over again!

There is this added intelligence in the Old Spice campaign which identifies who they respond to – one of them happened to be a sick Kevin Rose (of Digg fame). Instead of simply saying ‘Get well soon, Kev!’, here’s what the Old Spice Man said.

It’s no wonder Kevin Rose was compelled to tweet this!

HOLY SH*T, best get well video EVER from the old spice man!: http://bit.ly/dpSeOs

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