It was the viral ad campaign you wished your viral ad campaign would look like.
Marrying Twitter, You Tube, a rising TV personality and a hot ad campaign all in one, Old Spice made a unique online splash this week by posting nearly 100 video shorts in one day and approximately double that over the entire three-day period of the project that directly responded to tweets from celebrities and the unknown alike.
Starring Isaiah Mustafa, the performer in Old Spice’s “I’m the Man Your Man Could Smell Like” commercials — one of which earned ad agency Weiden+Kennedy and production company MJZ a 2010 Emmy nomination last week — the YouTube videos were scripted, shot, edited and posted within an hour or two of the original tweets they responded to.
“It was a genius idea that came entirely from the mind of (W+E global interactive creative director) Iain Tait,” W+E creative director Jason Bagley told Variety On the Air. “We wanted to capitalize on all the YouTube traffic we knew we’d be getting when the new Old Spice spots launched, and Iain threw out the idea of having Isaiah Mustafa in a room for a few days making video responses to people’s YouTube comments.”
The success of the videos snowballed on Twitter, with Old Spice suddenly being publicized for free by such celebrities as Ryan Seacrest (3.25 million followers), George Stephanopoulos (1.6 million) and Alyssa Milano (nearly 1 million) and networks like G4 and VH1.
“Thank you Ellen, for massaging my ears with your compliment-laden Twitter prose,” Mustafa said, by proxy, to the nearly 5 million Twitter followers of Ellen DeGeneres. “Things have been going great for me. In Eastern Latvia, they love Old Spice Body Wash so much, they made me king. Which is great, because I love grapes.”
The creative team on the responses were Bagley and fellow creative director Eric Baldwin, along with copywriter Eric Kallman and art director Craig Allen. Asked what the team’s quickest turnaround time was from tweet to response, Bagley said they were “moving too fast to pay attention.”
Marathon man Mustafa’s ability to convey such smiling, prideful earnestness helped the actor earn a talent deal with NBC in June (Daily Variety, June 11) — and one supposes that Hollywood would at least put some feelers out for the campaign's creatives. (W+K received three of this year's five Emmy nominations for outstanding commercial.) Actress Justine Bateman asked via Twitter if the Old Spice guy could do ads for all the world’s products.
“Interesting idea, Justine,” Mustafa responded on YouTube. “My concern is that if I did ads for all the world’s products, it would cause global prosperity, world peace, a population explosion, and a cataclysmic shortage of pork bacon and Old Spice, which would lead to a global war, as each nation tries to secure a dwindling supply of Old Spice and bacon.”