Why You Shouldn’t Be Like Old Spice?


Oh Old Spice Campaign, how I have a love-hate relationship with you. I love the initial videos and how you leveraged social media in a new and innovative way. It’s not every day that an ad campaign for a deodorant can garner 30 million views on Youtube. But, lately you’ve grown stagnant. You don’t engage with your fans and followers and now all you are doing is “push marketing.”

The Old Spice campaign has turned into a case study for what not to do in social media.

PR/Marketing professionals, like myself, rely heavily on these case studies to stay on top of the latest and greatest social media/viral video campaigns. We watch them, read about them and pretty much analyze them to death. That’s fine. That’s part of the learning process.

But lately I’ve noticed a disturbing trend. People are growing lazy. Instead of learning from them, people are just trying to mimic these “successful campaigns.” That’s a real problem.

Even Sesame Street tried to put their own spin on the Old Spice Smell Like Your Man campaign. While their Smell Like a Monster video has 6 million views, that’s not even close to the level of impressions that the first Old Spice video got.

For starters, many of these campaigns have some real flaws. Take the Old Spice campaign. This campaign started out great on Youtube, but now the big-time advertisers are riding the wave of success and growing stagnant. They haven’t replied to any viewers’ comments. Worse, they haven’t stepped up their game since the launch of this campaign back after the Superbowl in 2010.

Second, each social media campaign is narrowly targeted to a specific audience and set of goals. The goals for your company aren’t going to be the same as the ones for the Old Spice campaign. Therefore, you will not get the same results.

The third and most important reason is that this campaign went viral because it had awesome content and was innovative. To quote Scott Stratten, “people share AWESOME.” And, there’s nothing awesome about mimicing someone’s else success.

Final Thought:

Instead of wasting our time mimicing the Old Spice campaign, let’s start challenging ourselves to be more creative and come up with our own new and innovative campaigns. Let’s come up with our own awesome content. That’s how we can create the next big social media success story.

About the author

Jessica Malnik


  • Hey Jessica! I agree, this newest phase of the Old Space campaign doesn’t seem as engaging as the last one. And in general, I think too many people want to know what the rules/steps are, instead of trying to figure out what would work best for THEM. That’s why ‘5 Steps to….’ posts are always so popular.

    IMO the experts are the ones that use these steps as the STARTING POINT, and figure out how to make their OWN steps.

    Have a great Sunday!

    • Hi, Mack! I completely agree with you. There are so many people just looking for the easy solutions and the “how tos.” When in reality, the true marketing pioneers read and understand these case studies, but it can’t stop there. You have to take what you learned and then create your own strategy and application.

  • I understand your concern – no, not everyone can be like Old Spice. However, while you write this post to say why you shouldn’t be like them, you give very little reasoning behind the numbers and efforts of their campaign. Not everyone is selling body wash, and not everyone does the research to find out that 70% of people making body wash purchased were women (at the time). Their campaign was funny, relevant, and probably only something another big brand could do. You DO mention how they left little engagement with their fans, which is a great point for the smaller companies who will attempt something similar.

    It’s almost as if you bash PR professionals, as if they cannot top this kind of creativity? I think there’s a fine line between reproducing the same thing and being creative on your own.

    • I couldn’t agree more with your last sentence, Sara. There’s a very fine line between piggy-backing and riding a successful campaign’s coattails and actually coming up with something original. This post was meant to show that originality matters and some PR pros and advertisers – by no means all- have grown a bit lazy. They read the case studies and then try and imitate then. That will never reach the same level of success as an original idea.