More reactive than flourine. Funnier than boron.
You’re wrong about Old Spice
Categories: in the news, marketing

This may have to be quick, since I want to do this before I forget it, but simply put: you’re wrong about Old Spice. (More links to come later.)

If you’re retweeting the Yahoo post (here) referencing a BrandWeek article about how Old Spice sales are down despite the great social ads featuring Isaiah Mustafa in a towel (aka The Old Spice Guy) then you’re not looking at the numbers closely enough. There seem to be some serious issues with the BrandWeek data as far as I can tell. As I tweeted this morning, here’s where I see some problems:

1 – The numbers do NOT come from Proctor & Gamble but from an analyst firm. I have no reason to doubt the numbers are fairly accurate, but “fairly” is a word that can cover a multitude of sins. What does make me wonder about them, however, is issue #2

2 – Walmart numbers are excluded from the data. I’m not an old CPG hand, but I would think Walmart (y’know, the world’s largest retail company) could skew figures considerably in either direction and affect the data set. Plus, I’d bet Walmart’s shoppers (who are ridiculously hard to pin down demographically regardless of what you might think) tend to be above average Old Spice buyers. (That’s a total hunch with no data, but it makes sense.)

3 – The numbers are for a 52 week period ending June 13th. The viral component of the campaign only began on July 14th. (I may be off by a day or two, but it was well after June 13th.) I would have said the numbers were too soon to draw conclusions even if they ended a day after the social media effort, since not everyone ran out of shower gel on the same day and it isn’t something you run out and buy spur-of-the-moment. But the fact that the numbers end well before the ‘second wave’ of social videos featuring the Old Spice guy makes them almost meaningless.

So before you begin dismantling the viral campaign as an “epic fail,” maybe you should check out this from PR Week on July 21st. It says JULY sales to date (as in the month containing the actual viral efforts) are UP 107%. And these are numbers coming directly from P&G (as in the folks who actually know).

I’ll come back and fix links, add some pics  and some clarifications to this post later, but I wanted to get this up right way.  Feel free to comment.

Now I’m on a horse…

Photo Credit: Michelanglo. It’s Isaiah from the Sistine Chapel. It’s funny. Oh, shut up.

UPDATE (already?!): I’ll do some follow-ups on this post. I’m also digging out some old posts I did after the Skittles social media campaign. It seems like what I said then is still apropos now.

UPDATE II: Added the pic and made some spelling fixes. My original post was rife with typos but I did it quickly lest anyone think I was late to the party on this topic. I hate to be a tooter of my own horn, but I was actually pointing this stuff out as soon as the Yahoo post came out (I admit to not seeing the Brandweek article) and the social media ‘mavens’ began pushing the “Old Spice Guy Fails” meme. I was actually surprised that meme caught on the way it did.

UDATE III: My new post on this topic here. BrandChannel has a more in depth look at the numbers here that echoes some of what I said in my post. It looks like I was right. (Woo hoo!) Some discussion on the BrandChannel numbers with lots of insights from Stephen Denny here. (Follow him on Twitter @note_to_cmo.)

2 Comments to “You’re wrong about Old Spice”

  1. Elyse_D says:

    Totally agree with you. It’s still too soon to tell and the numbers being thrown around at this point are premature in my opinion. Like you said, not everyone ran out of bodywash or deodorant at the exact time the campaign started. These articles were written with partial data. I think we need to wait and see the outcome.

    I have to think that part of the goal of the campaign was to increase brand awareness within a younger demographic and change the brand image from “your Dad’s brand” – a goal that P&G has been working on for awhile now.

  2. James says:

    Thanks for the feedback, Elyse. I’m still amazed at how many people are jumping on this campaign without asking themselves the simple question: “Do I know more that P&G does about sales, plans, etc?” As I said in my later post, I wonder if some aren’t actually hoping for it to fail as it proves that a lot of the social media ‘conventional wisdom’ is simply wrong.

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