The Man Your Man Could Smell Like
Old Spice launched this campaign with Isaiah Mustafa with a
30-second commercial during the 2010 Super Bowl. The spot was a hit
on video-sharing websites, such as YouTube, where it has received
more than 41 million views. (It won the Grand Prix for film at the
2010 Cannes Lions.)
Old Spice capitalized on the campaign's notoriety by producing a
number of online videos featuring Mustafa.
Procter & Gamble announced in 2011 that Fabio would be the
Old Spice pitchman, leading to a rebellion among Mustafa fans and a
poll on which hunk viewers preferred. A "Mano a Mano" video
featured a good-natured confrontation between them.
The campaign boosted sales, but by how much? And how much of the
increase was attributable to the TV spots and how much to the
'The Hunger Games'
The movie has just passed the $600 million mark, which makes it
the highest-grossing film of the year by far.
A New York Times headline on March 19 read, "A digital blitz for
Hunger Games rewrites Hollywood's marketing script." The article
said that "the dark art of movie promotion increasingly lives on
the web, where studios are playing a wilier game, using social
media and a blizzard of other inexpensive yet effective online
techniques to pull off what may be the marketer's ultimate trick:
persuading fans to persuade each other."
It went on to say that "the campaign's centerpiece has been a
phased, yearlong digital effort built around the content platforms
cherished by young audiences: near-constant use of Facebook and
Twitter, a YouTube channel, a Tumblr blog, iPhone games and live
Yahoo streaming from the premiere."
Not until 10 paragraphs in did the Times mention that when the
movie opened there were more than 24 million copies of "The Hunger
Games" trilogy in print in the U.S. (I wonder what might have
happened to "John Carter" if 24 million copies of a book had been
circulating the day the movie opened.)
Though both print and the web made "The Hunger Games" movie a
success, would it have been a blockbuster without the book?
Brands built on the web
The internet is exceptionally good at promoting web, not
The entrepreneurs who launched Google, Facebook, YouTube,
Groupon, Pinterest and LinkedIn (and the venture capitalists who
backed them) can afford yachts. But what about their partners, what
about the advertisers using the web and social media to build their
Where are the customers' yachts?
It's hard to find success stories that match those of Instagram
and their ilk. Yet social media has so captured the imagination of
the marketing community that no one seems to want to talk about
If you don't have the right strategy, good tactics won't help
you very much. And social, like all media, is a tactic. What
concerns me is that too many marketers have elevated tactics --
especially those of social media -- to the level of strategy.
Or even worse.
The death of strategy
"We don't just live in a VUCA world -- a volatile, uncertain,
complex and ambiguous world -- we live in a super-VUCA world,"
Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi &
Saatchi, recently said. "We live in a vibrant world where our
kids are connecting to each other and to brands across the world
with no money involved."
"Strategy is dead," Mr. Roberts proclaimed. "Who really knows
what is going to happen anymore . ... The more time and money you
spend devising strategies, the more time you are giving your rivals
to start eating your lunch."
This idea isn't new. When I worked at Needham, an ad agency that
later became part of DDB, strategy was an
What was important was "creativity." You made the work you
thought would knock the socks off judges at awards contests and
"backed down" the strategy. That is , you began with the
advertising, and then asked yourself what you could invent to
justify it. You designed a client presentation that focused on a
problem your advertising was going to solve.
If social media's the solution, what's the
Though that 's the question everyone appears to be asking, I'm
not sure it's the right one. It seems the order should be reversed:
What's the problem? What's the strategy to address it? Which
tactics to we use to execute the strategy?
Strategy should dictate tactics, and coming up with a good one
Take Burger King. After decades of copying McDonald's line
extensions with little success, you might think the fast-food chain
would have reversed direction and focused on burgers instead of
But, no. Subservient Cow just isn't as funny as Subservient