Case studies

Social web and new story-telling

Watch this video. It’s less than a minute long.

Would this story be told more effectively through

a traditional video of this couple?

a written story?

an audio podcast?

There is something about the way voice, type and movement make this a very effective way to tell a story.  Did you hear the girl gasp at the 10 second mark? It was almost more dramatic imagining her face instead of seeing it. Like a book.

Maybe something to think about. Are there ways to mash-up these social media technologies to tell your story in a new way? I wish I had time to play around with these ideas!

Can The Shirtless Old Spice Guy pull off a marketing miracle?

Unless you’ve been in a cave this week, it would have been hard to avoid the splendid, amazing and entertaining Old Spice media blitz, which includes brilliant ads and one of the best social media campaigns in the young history of the channel.

“Hello Ladies,” says the oh-so-manly Old Spice guy. “Does your man look like me?  No.  Can he smell like me? Yes.”

While the hilarious Old Spice ads have been an Internet hit on their own for months (5.5 million views), everything changed this week.

As TNW reports, the Old Spice social media team had secretly been collecting people’s – and especially celebrity – questions and responses across Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, and Yahoo Answers, and were preparing for this week’s all-day-video-shoot where Shirtless Old Spice Guy (Isaiah Mustafa) would provide video responses. This included providing a proxy wedding proposal (that was accepted!).

Literally, an over-night marketing legend was created (here’s a link to some of the stats).

I don’t need to re-hash the details of the campaign.  Instead I’d like to point out that this is an extremely rare example of a brand attempting to entirely re-invent itself.  To accomplish that, you need it all — vision, guts, brilliance, execution, and a lot of advertising money.

There have been plenty of others who have tried to go down this perilous path and failed (remember “it’s not your father’s Oldsmobile?”).  This drive to resuscitate Old Spice may go down as one of the most ballsy moves in marketing history.

Despite numerous attempts at an updated image, OldSpice was still languishing behind edgier brands like Axe. Wouldn’t you have liked to have been a fly on the wall when the ad agency (Wieden+Kennedy) made this pitch: “While the  historical Old Spice customer is an ulta-conservative white male in his mid-50s, we would like our new spokesperson to be a half-naked black man flaunting his manliness to women under 40.”  Sure, the social media is genius. But what I admire most is that they may have finally taken a quantum-leap toward achieving this:
Old Spice … the pungent, stinging stuff my DAD used to splash on his face each morning, is now a trending topic on Twitter, not to mention riding the top of Digg, Reddit and a ton of mainstream news stories. The story is all the more remarkable because of how awful Old Spice ads have been in recent years. Remember the “centaur” ad during the Super Bowl?

Another break-through aspect of this campaign is how a blue-chip brand truly integrated a multi-million-dollar mainstream advertising campaign with the social web.  Even recent successes like the wildly-successful Nike World Cup mini-movie seemed to occupy a special niche as a pure social media play.  Can you think of another high-profile example where the TV spokesperson is really interacting and responding to people on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube? This may be the start of real integration.

This social media campaign has built tremendous momentum in just a few days. Will this actually sell body wash?  What will happen to the brand’s core demographic?  Will we witness a true marketing miracle? Will the Old Spice Guy suffer from (ahem) over-exposure?

And now it appears that the social media onslaught has just as quickly some to an end. Today, the “Guy,” chainsaw in hand, says in a final tweet and video “like all great things this too must end.”  And then he catches a giant fish that falls from nowhere.

So what will happen next in this campaign? Some guesses:

  • Customer contributions to their own home-made shower commercials
  • Shirtless guy cameo appearances in real TV shows
  • Humorous , longer YouTube productions with how-to tips on how to be manly

What do you think?  I hope you’ll join me in appreciating this really special marketing campaign and tell me what you think about it in the comment section.

By the way, this blog post is dedicated to Arminda Lindsay (@AllArminda). Why?  Because she asked me to. You should know by now that I am basically the {grow} community’s personal blogger … kind of your word valet.   And Arminda wanted me to write about a half-naked black man.  So I did.

“Think outside the office” video promotes new economy

I’m a judge on the International Economic Development Council’s annual website competition this month and I’ll be featuring some of the amazing best practices I’m witnessing in some future posts.

I’ve been impressed with some of things Calgary, Canada has been doing for some time and I really love this new marketing angle they’ve developed for their city — positioning their community as place that enables the new economy by making it easy for people to work from home.

Although working from home isn’t a new concept, making it part of a city’s brand is … and I thought this upbeat video treatment gets the unique  point across nicely. Calgary has done done also done a beautiful job with their “Live in Calgary” website.”

Did Mashable cross a line?

Yesterday, something happened on Mashable which illustrates one of the biggest threats to the social web, to business, and maybe even democracy.  I’m really interested to see what you have to say about this incident.  Let’s start with the lead paragraph from their post:

The Italian Windows website “Windowsette” somehow managed to get a hold of a super-secret, highly confidential PowerPoint presentation outlining many of Microsoft’s goals and plans for Windows 8. Apparently this sensitive data (complete with UNDER NDA watermarks) was just found sitting around the Internet.

If you haven’t been around the corporate world, NDA stands for “non-disclosure agreement.”  This means that whoever had these slides had signed a legal document to keep them secret.

The Windowsette site said it learned of this leak from “Andrea Martinelli.” I have no idea who that is but it seems unlikely she just found secret internal Microsoft documents “sitting around the Internet.”

So here are the questions I have for you:

  • Mashable has become the journal of record for the social web. Maybe they’ve been trained as journalists, maybe they’re not.  Does that make a difference?
  • Is it ethical for them to publish a “super-secret, highly confidential” internal document that could be extremely damaging to Microsoft?
  • Is it responsible to report on a document whose source was a single associate of an obscure website in Italy?  How can we even know these slides are real? Isn’t it easy to create official-looking PowerPoint slides?
  • The Mashable post was tweeted almost 1,000 times and included in about 500 Facebook sites.  For many people, this article has become “the news.” What are the implications when non-journalists create the news?

I’ll tip my hand here and say that my undergrad was in journalism and I believe this institution is essential to democracy.  What’s going on in most blogs today is not journalism.  Usually that’s OK.  But with the dramatic decline of the traditional press, whatever we have left on blogs is going to become our de facto news of record. Like Mashable.

In the end, this incident will have a shelf life of about one day and it’s easy to let a big company like Microsoft be our target. But what if this unsubstantiated piece of news was about your secret new product development?  Your company? Your congressman? A terrorist threat in your community?

What if it was about you?

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