Hello Ladies: Old Spice's Wildly Successful Ad Model The recent media campaign took social media marketing to an entirely new level. The YouTube videos -- featuring a sultry-voiced, over-the-top ladies man -- managed to attract more online views in 24 hours than Susan Boyle's singing and President Obama's victory speech.
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Hello Ladies: Old Spice's Wildly Successful Ad Model

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Hello Ladies: Old Spice's Wildly Successful Ad Model

Hello Ladies: Old Spice's Wildly Successful Ad Model

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.


I'm Robert Siegel.

And it's time now for All Tech Considered.

(Soundbite of music)

SIEGEL: Last week, a YouTube social media campaign rocked the Internet with over 34 million views in less than a week, and Lady Gaga had nothing to do with it.

(Soundbite of ad)

Mr. ISAIAH MUSTAFA (Actor): Swan dive into the best night of your life. So, ladies, should your man smell like an Old Spice man?

SIEGEL: Old Spice took its popular television ad campaign featuring a bare-chested sultry voice over-the-top ladies man and brought it to YouTube. Here's the gimmick: fans of the ads used social networks like Twitter to ask questions of the Old Spice guy. And in 186 cases, he responded personally with short videos.

(Soundbite of video)

Mr. MUSTAFA: George Stephanopoulos asked a political question: The president's lost some female support. How does the White House get those women voters back?

SIEGEL: Old Spice guy responds with a few suggestions.

(Soundbite of video)

Mr. MUSTAFA: Instead of opening the State of the Union address with, my fellow Americans, try opening with, hello, ladies.

SIEGEL: Advertisers and social media experts are buzzing after the campaign's success. The response videos are being hailed as the fastest growing viral video campaign of any product in history.

Marshall Kirkpatrick joins me now from Portland, Oregon to talk about the campaign's success. He is the co-editor of the technology blog, Read, Write, Web. Welcome to the program.

Mr. MARSHALL KIRKPATRICK (Co-Editor, Read, Write, Web): Thank you for having me, Robert.

SIEGEL: And so a Portland-based marketing firm called Wieden+Kennedy is responsible for this Old Spice ad campaign. You spoke with one of the creative directors. How did they post 186 personalized videos to YouTube in just two days?

Mr. KIRKPATRICK: The campaign put out a call for questions and then they had a complex system hacked together to pull in all of the responses and questions and comments from all over the Web not just Twitter and Facebook, but even much smaller social networks. And then the writers and the creatives made the decisions together quickly to decide who to respond to. And they did the entire production of each short little video in an average of seven minutes per video.

SIEGEL: Tens of millions of views. Why do you think this took off so much?

Mr. KIRKPATRICK: The celebrities that got responded to helped quite a bit because he would make a video for Alyssa Milano or Ellen DeGeneres and they would tweet and Facebook out links to the campaigns. But once people got there, the Old Spice guy was answering questions from people with names like PancakeHumper and it could be you, as opposed to traditional advertising.

SIEGEL: I should just point out, it actually isn't me in that case. PancakeHumper, I was just going to say.

Mr. KIRKPATRICK: Nor is it me, but it could be. There's something about the potential that you could be spoken to directly that I think was very, very captivating.

SIEGEL: Well, has this changed the marketing landscape from what you're hearing, or do you think it's just a one-off event?

Mr. KIRKPATRICK: Oh, I think that it has - everyone else that I have spoken to has referenced it. And for example, I'm working on a story right now about a big concert with a world famous rock band in New York City coming up sponsored by a major financial service and everyone asks, can that effort be as successful as a guy in a bath towel?

SIEGEL: Big question, though, for measuring success here. Are Old Spice products flying off the shelves all over the world?

Mr. KIRKPATRICK: Old Spice representatives say that while they won't disclose specific numbers, they have seen a very clear increase in sales, they believe as a result of the campaign.

SIEGEL: Well, Marshall Kirkpatrick, thank you very much for talking with us.

Mr. KIRKPATRICK: Thanks for having me, Robert.

SIEGEL: Marshall Kirkpatrick is the co-editor of the technology blog, Read, Write, Web.

And joining me now from his home in Van Nuys, California is the man behind the smell like a man man campaign, Isaiah Mustafa, the Old Spice guy. Mr. Mustafa was a pro-football player, a struggling actor until the success of the Old Spice commercials. One of the first personalized YouTube videos that Mustafa did was for NPR's pop culture blogger Linda Holmes.

(Soundbite of video)

Mr. MUSTAFA: Linda, thanks for sharing my recent Old Spice work on National Public Radio. I hope your organization continues to prosper with generous listener donations, just as my body prospers with a generous intake of lean proteins, vegetables, antioxidants...

SIEGEL: Isaiah Mustafa, welcome to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

Mr. MUSTAFA: Hi, thank you for having me.

SIEGEL: And what was it like to make nearly 200 personalized videos in just a couple of days?

Mr. MUSTAFA: It was exhilarating, to tell you the truth. We were going pretty quick, so there wasn't much time for any messing up or flubbing of lines. So each response really only had one take. It was one take per response, give or take a few that we wanted to take our time with.

SIEGEL: So you are a champ reader in there to be able to do that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MUSTAFA: Yes, I read a lot. I read a lot of comic books out loud when I was a kid because I liked to really get into each character. So I think that really helped me.

SIEGEL: So where does this lead you to? Movie deals? A Saturday morning series on the Old Spice guy? What happens?

Mr. MUSTAFA: Right. It's just really led to a lot more opportunity. Recently I signed a deal with NBC, which means that I'll be basically a first look with NBC. I'm really excited. I'm about to start a movie called "Free Enterprise 2." It's a William Shatner film, so I'm really excited about that also.

SIEGEL: Do you ever worry a little bit? This is a good kind of worry to have, that your acting career might in some way be contained by the fact that you're the Old Spice guy, you know. You're the funny Old Spice guy.

Mr. MUSTAFA: You know what? When I was on a couch about a year ago worrying about where my rent was going to come from, that's a real worry. So to be worrying about whether my acting career is going to be contained by Old Spice is a problem that I'd like to have.

SIEGEL: Well, good luck to you.

Mr. MUSTAFA: Thank you.

SIEGEL: That's Isaiah Mustafa, better known at least for now as the Old Spice guy. Would you like to just say something to our listeners right now before you go?

Mr. MUSTAFA: Hello, listeners, thank you for tuning in. I'll be seeing you again, most likely in your bathroom.

(Soundbite of Old Spice theme)

NORRIS: If Isaiah Mustafa goes on to have a successful acting career, he will be in good company. Many well-known actors got their start in TV commercials.

(Soundbite of TV ad)

Ms. JODIE FOSTER (Actor): I always considered the GAF View-Master an ingenious invention.

SIEGEL: That is a very young and precocious Jodie Foster before she went on to two Oscars for best actress.

NORRIS: And here's another Academy Award winning actress Susan Sarandon.

(Soundbite of TV ad)

Ms. SUSAN SARANDON (Actor): Smooth Dermassage all over. I use Dermassage every day.

SIEGEL: Also a TV commercial veteran, an actor who's currently starring in the nation's number one movie.

(Soundbite of TV ad)

Mr. LEONARDO DICAPRIO (Actor): This is a chunk of super soft Bubble Yum bubble gum.

SIEGEL: That is a preteen Leonardo DiCaprio.

NORRIS: And, finally, an actor so revered, he's played God twice.

(Soundbite of TV ad)

Mr. MORGAN FREEMAN (Actor): Kills germs. The germs that can give you bad breath. See? And it lasts, you understand?

NORRIS: That's Morgan Freeman pitching mouthwash.

SIEGEL: Proving that for Old Spice spokesmodel Isaiah Mustafa, the future smells very good indeed.

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