media meltdown

Media Too Quick To Label Old Spice Man a Failure

Posted by Abe Sauer on July 23, 2010 12:30 PM

Ladies and gentlemen, start your headlines, because the Old Spice Guy backlash is on!

Old Spice's Viral Ads Got Attention, Not Sales

Old Spice Body Wash Sales Down
Despite Recent Online Video Marketing Blitz?

My Ad's Gone Viral; Now Where are the Sales?

Did the Hilarious Old Spice Commercials Hurt Old Spice Sales?

The Old Spice Guy Didn't Actually Help Old Spice. Here's Why

Old Spice Ad Wins Fans, Not Sales

Those are just a few of the headlines from media organizations getting out ahead of the curve on the Old Spice Guy backlash. They're reacting to the fact that Old Spice sales are down 7%, even though its popularity is at an all-time high, the voracious news cycle demands someone declare Old Spice's popular ads a failure. They are all wrong.

Weeks ago, Brandchannel questioned the efficacy of the Old Spice Guy ads, wondering how, even with a temporary sales increase, the campaign served the long-term interests of the brand. (The debate rages on.) But even then we acknowledged that only time would tell and the true success of the Old Spice campaign might not be known for a year. But that's too long to wait for many.

The media that has already turned against Old Spice, after fawning all over the brand for the last month, is all using the same statistic, that Old Spice sales are down 7%.

But the 7% decline is taken out of context. The full data from SymphonyIRI reveal that the decline came over a 52-week period and that period ended June 13, a year worth of data before the Old Spice ads reached peak popularity and saturation with its recent social media response campaign.

In actual fact, Old Spice sales are up. Nielsen reports that sales of the Old Spice Body Wash line climbed by 55% over the last three months. Sales of the brand'sproducts rocketed up 107% in the last month alone.

So please, let's stop with the "Old Spice Guy failed" pieces… for now.

It was preposterous to believe that with the popularity of the ads Old Spice sales would tank. Even those who went out and bought it as a joke had to give the brand a significant bump. But as we stated earlier, let's all revisit this before the 2011 Super Bowl, which will mark a year since the Old Spice Man debuted, and see where the Old Spice brand stands.

Comments

Mark Australia says:

I think the Old Spice Ads weren't primarily about increasing sales (at least not initially). They were about making the brand relevant, and they have done this very successfully. Ultimately, Old Spice will want this success translated into profit, and to do so Old Spice will now have to leverage this increased relevance/awareness, and push customers into trialling the product.

What else has Old Spice done (or will be doing) to get the customer to try the product?

July 23, 2010 01:28 PM #

Mike K United States says:

I agree with Mark. Groups should be measuring the awareness of Old Spice as a company among Millennials, this will start to translate into sales for the decade. Well done Old Spice.

July 23, 2010 02:58 PM #

Warren Baxter Canada says:

Completely agree that the media was too quick to label it a failure.  Particularly if the 7% decline is out of context as stated (an unfortunate and ever-increasing threat to our understanding of the world at hand in the age of 140 characters being the complete source of information for many, published by anyone and everyone).  

That being said, the driver of the backlash should also be noted, specifically it was in response to the overzealous statements of success about the campaign.  As an agency guy who spend the first 3/4 of his career on the client side, the ultimate success of any FMCG campaign is not number of YouTube views or wins a Cannes, it's sales.  

Noting Mark's comment above.  Did they make the brand relevant?  I don't think so...it was tremendously successful in generating awareness about Old Spice because it was highly entertaining.  But was does Old Spice stand for...what does it mean...what is the emotive driver to purchase... just not so sure.

July 23, 2010 03:14 PM #

A Sauer United States says:

You should join the debate (linked above) if you haven't already.

I agree but also see Mark's point and eagerly await a time when we can see how this all shakes out. Can you say, "Case Study?"

July 23, 2010 05:05 PM #

Mark Australia says:

Agree with you Warren that aside from the ad being very innovative and quirky, does it compel people to go out and buy Old Spice? Perhaps not (time will tell). And this is the point Abe has been arguing all along.
But as I said, I think if Old Spice can leverage this awareness further - be it through some kind of promotion aimed at getting customers to trial the product (perhaps something quirky that is in line with the Ads), increased prominence of the product in stores, etc - then sales will follow. Whether it results in sustained sales and loyal customers, that will depend upon the product itself and whether it satisfies.  

July 24, 2010 06:11 AM #

Mark Australia says:

perhaps the issue may be that even with a brilliant Ad campaign, a product such as mens body wash isn't wanted by this younger target audience. I'm 25 and I personally have no desire to get mens body wash...

July 25, 2010 05:03 AM #

Stephen Denny United States says:

Great to see the data - I wish we could get sell-through feedback from brands more often (without having to endure a firestorm of headlines before releasing it!).

Buzz doesn't always equal conversion. But it's great when it does! Thanks for sharing this - let's hope sell-through gets reported with the same breathless urgency that YouTube views do in the future!

@Note_to_CMO

July 23, 2010 05:56 PM #

Stephen Denny United States says:

Dear Brandweek Team:

May I offer a suggestion? You're in a unique position to affect some serious change in the dialog here, so I'm looking to you for help.

The next time a brand's campaign goes stratospherically viral, could you - on behalf of all of us - go track down the sell-through as a top priority rather than the lower hanging buzz numbers? This is the real barometer of success.

This is something you could do that would not only bring success stories to life in a much more meaningful way but would also put the marketing discussion on a more substantial footing.

Thanks!

July 23, 2010 07:21 PM #

A Sauer United States says:

Stephen,

We have been on this since it went "stratospheric." Please read our analysis from June, where we (I) criticized et campaign but asked for long term metrics.
www.brandchannel.com/.../...mpaign-Commentary.aspx

The above are the first meaningful data we've been alerted to. In the future we will certainly continue to follow any and all information on this we can find.

In return we only ask that you keep us straight from Brandweek. They do great work also, but we're..… different.

July 24, 2010 12:35 AM #

vidcrayzee United States says:

By pretty much every metric (accept sales where the data is yet to be released since THIS campaign started) the campaign was a huge success.  The question becomes how do small and mid size companies do something similar without the budget of Old Spice.  Here is one idea, http://bit.ly/bCxs72.

July 23, 2010 09:59 PM #

Helenarosette United States says:

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The FatMan United States says:

Crikey!! If we're going to judge the effectiveness of our ads by their ability to increase sales, that means ALL my Annuals are WORTHLESS (mostly)!!

July 26, 2010 04:57 PM #

Warren Baxter United States says:

To be clear, my reference for sales was regarding campaigns for FMCG. I admit I don't know for sure because I don't work for Old Spice, but I would strongly suspect that their objective for the campaign was to somehow positively impact sales.  At the moment, that result is an unknown.  

What seems fairly certain is 15 minutes of internet fame was created for the Old Spice Guy...and at least a few minutes more for Isaiah Mustafa (just reported he landed both a TV and movie role).  Additionally, his gig with Old Spice is for a year, so developing the ongoing brand icon attached to say the Man From Glad or the Maytag Repairman is not currently on the table.

Yes, it was funny and it reminded me for a few minutes that Old Spice was still around.  But again, if I was ultimately going to judge the success of this exercise...show me the money.

July 28, 2010 04:41 PM #

Erik Johnson United States says:

How great would the viral campaign have been of it would have reinforced why people buy Old Spice? If it had the sales numbers would actually matter. Short term sales are up which is not a surprise, with that many hits sales have no where to go but up.

Brands are built in the long-term and the Old Spice brand is still suffering from massive line extension.

July 28, 2010 11:05 AM #

Think Differentiated United States says:

Half the problem with Old Spice is the “Old.” Out with the Old, in with the new.

Words have power and equity that can be good or bad for the product. My mother used to call this scent Old 'Spouse!' I don't have to tell you that my father never wore it.

Start by bidding adieu to the Old and just brand “Spice!” That’s one way to Spice up sales across the board.

July 29, 2010 02:33 PM #

Mark Australia says:

Agree, "Old Spice" doesn't really capture this new image they are going for in trying to tap into a younger market.
However, I raised this in the Brandchannel debate on this, that I think many of the younger generation have no pre-existing knowledge associated with "Old Spice" - at least for myself personally, I wasn't at all familiar with Old Spice prior to this new campaign - and "Old Spice" now has a unique meaning to this demographic.
So you could say that this new campaign has actually branded the words "Old Spice", and it is in fact now - regardless of the fact that "Old" is one of the words - quite "cool" so to speak.

July 30, 2010 04:05 AM #

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