Nope. That’s not a reference to the fact that I haven’t written a post in two weeks. Although I do feel kinda invisible.
I refer to that famous quote because I believe it should be appropriated by traditional ad agencies, who after an 18-month long string of death due to social media obituaries, flew out of the grave on Tuesday when Wieden + Kennedy broke The Old Spice Man social media campaign. Check out the eye-popping stats from Mashable here.
Yes, there are still many questions that need to be answered, some of which we bandied about during Translator lab hours yesterday:
Is this a stunt, or a long-term sustainable means of engagement?
The last tweet from @OldSpice began “Well friends, like all great things this too must end.” Huh. That’s campaign speak to me. To me, by definition, social doesn’t end. It’s what @faris describes as constantly connected. Yeah, that’s good. I’d pose this question to @streetzapizza and @AJBombers : If you took a three-month hiatus from Twitter, would you still be as connected to your customers? (And if you did, what would it do to your sales?) The challenge for Old Spice and W+K becomes now that you found a brilliant way to make connections, what’s your plan to sustain them?
Do I laugh at this in front of my laptop, but still walk past the product on the retail shelf? The work is brilliant. Hysterical. Definitely spreadable media. (And please, for the bazillionth time, stop using the term viral video). I honestly have no idea how Isaiah Mustafa did not crack up while performing—they were doing these at a rate of one every 7 minutes.
Agencies get hired to sell things, and fired when they don’t. Okay, they get fired for a lot of crazy other reasons too, but that’s a different post. Dudes—or gals who purchase personal products for your dude—are you buying Old Spice in the near future? I loved the videos, but I will not be a purchaser. That makes me a passive endorser. Is that what brand managers are after? In checking HootSuite, I see that my former Minneapolis colleague @alangdell (who is much younger and hipper than me) just tweeted:
This Old Spice campaign is just amazingly entertaining. I still don’t want to buy it, but I’m glad someone is financing this.
W+K is doing a helluva job changing the perception of Old Spice. But to a lot of us, the product is still—well—Old Spice. Certainly time and sales figures will tell. I’m sure there will be plenty of data on that to come.
Despite those questions, this work validated one thing for me. Don’t count traditional agencies out. They will eventually adapt to the new platforms and channels. There are way too many smart people to assume they’ll never get it.
It will still take time. It may come with pouting, holding of breath, and a fair amount of bitching and moaning, (I’ve covered the subject) but eventually the sheer intellectual and creative capital of those trained in doing something one way will eventually adapt to doing it a new way. To be conversationalists. To be co-creators. To create experiences in addition to campaigns. To walk a high-wire in real-time and collaborate with other disciplines and produce amazing results.
This is a really good thing. And it makes the discussion of who will rule the modern communication roost—traditional, digital or a T.B.D. evolution of both—even more interesting.
Let the debate continue.