I love the Old Spice Guy as much as the next man (which means, of course, that I enjoy his commercials greatly in a shared spirit of manliness and a joint appreciation of expensive magnifying glasses). The original commercial is inventive and funny, and the social-media-based campaign that they ran last week is enormously innovative. If you haven’t seen any of this yet, here is the original spot:
And here is the description from Read Write Web of the recent campaign:
A team of creatives, tech geeks, marketers and writers gathered in an undisclosed location in Portland, Oregon yesterday and produced 87 short comedic YouTube videos about Old Spice. In real time. They leveraged Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and blogs. They dared to touch the wild beasts of 4chan and they lived to tell the tale. Even 4chan loved it. Everybody loved it; those videos and 74 more made so far today have now been viewed more than 4 million times and counting. The team worked for 11 hours yesterday to make 87 short videos, that’s just over 7 minutes per video, not accounting for any breaks taken. Then they woke up this morning and they are still making more videos right now.
Here is the response to 4Chan:
All very creative, and the use of social media to drive the campaign last week is incredibly innovative. Procter & Gamble, the company that owns the Old Spice Brand, the Old Spice Guy himself Isaiah Mustafa, and advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy have all been justifiably praised for this campaign. The media attention has been enormous, the buzz has been even bigger, and videos have been shared pretty much everywhere by everyone.
So what could possibly be wrong with all of that?
Well, one thing.
None of it seems to be helping P&G sell any more Old Spice. Here is a summary from BNet:
For instance, it was none other than P&G that picked up the Film Grand Prix this year for Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” TV spot from Wieden + Kennedy. There is little doubt about the viral hit’s popularity. Launched in February, the official version has racked up nearly 12.2 million YouTube views.
But sales of the featured product—Red Zone After Hours Body Wash—aren’t necessarily tracking with that consumer appeal: In the 52 weeks ended June 13, sales of the brand have dropped 7 percent according to SymphonyIRI.
This is the danger of innovation for its own sake – you can be highly innovative and still not have an impact on your bottom line. There are steps to take to try to address this problem:
- Make sure that your innovation management program is integrated with your overall strategy. If innovation is not linked to strategy, you will not meet your goals. Innovation is not an end in itself, it is a means to improve the way your organisation functions.
- Develop innovation metrics that measure bottom-line impacts, not just innovation output. Innovation metrics are incredibly important. You need to not only measure innovation outputs (patents, creative awards, etc.), but you also need to measure the impact of innovation. If you are developing an innovative advertising campaign, it needs to not only generate interest and profile, it needs to increase your sales. All innovation must in some way make your organisation more effective.
I hope that P&G is rewarded by all of this in the end. It has been an incredibly inventive effort, and the spots are consistently hilarious. But the overall lesson here is that innovation must lead to results, otherwise it is a waste of effort and resources.
Update: This report suggests that the short-term response to the social media campaign has been an increase in sales of 107% over the previous month. This is actually pretty good news – it shows that the response to the genuinely innovative social media campaign has been substantially stronger than the response to the old-style clever commercial. Be sure to read the comments to see some good discussion of this point.