Five Lessons for B2B Marketers from Old Spice

Five Lessons for B2B Marketers from Old Spice
Savvy Guest - Thu Sep 16, 2010 @ 03:42AM
Comments: 41

We're pleased to present this guest post by Erika Kerekes of Read on for her suggestions about how B2B marketers can make the most of social media campaigns.

Unless you had a media-free summer, you probably heard about Old Spice’s extremely successful social media video campaign. You probably even watched one or two of the videos on YouTube (yes, you did, we all did, just admit it already). Which means you’re familiar with the shirtless actor with the washboard abs who updated the image of a dusty, tired, old-man brand seemingly overnight.

Old Spice commercial

So here’s what crossed my mind while I watched a hundred (okay, one or two) of these brilliant Old Spice videos: Would B2B marketers see better results from their social media campaigns if they found more ways to include shirtless guys with washboard abs?

My answer: YES. (Now you know something about me.) The real answer: Depends on who the customers are. If you’re selling to me – you know what to do.

Well-defined muscles aside, the Old Spice campaign does offer B2B marketers a few important lessons:

1. Loosen up. Everyone knows your company means serious business. But that doesn’t mean all your messaging needs to be serious. One of the reasons the Old Spice campaign worked so well is that the company clearly had their tongues in their cheeks the whole time. People are still people, and we respond with our hearts as well as our heads – even when the message is about enterprise software, accounting services, or logo t-shirts. Appeal to your audience’s emotions, sense of humor, etc. and you’ll be much more likely to capture their attention and win their trust.

2. Take advantage of your medium. In each video, Old Spice Guy delivers individual responses to tweets from his followers and fans – including some celebrities with their own huge followings, as in the Alyssa Milano video above. That’s a non-traditional and very public way to respond to comments from your audience; it uses the unique power of social media to turn what might otherwise have been an invisible one-to-one interaction into public theater. It also makes it easy for the celebs to amplify your message to their own fans.

3. Take chances. Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb – safe rarely wins. See, for example, Cisco’s B2B parody of the Old Spice campaign, which featured Ted from Accounting. Why didn’t this make more of a splash? I bet it would have done a lot better if Ted from Accounting had been wearing a towel – regardless (or perhaps because) of the state of his abs.

4. Drop names. Celebrities get people’s attention. Always. It’s harder to work them into a B2B campaign, but it’s possible, especially if you do so in the spirit of self-mockery (see item #1 above).

5. Plan, plan, plan. The Old Spice campaign was extremely tight. Everything on the company’s social media channels was consistent, thematic, timely and immediately updated, including their Twitter, Facebook, and of course YouTube pages. And content from one channel fed the others: Videos addressed comments made on the company’s Facebook wall and via Twitter; tweets pushed links to the videos; etc. The company even released a series of “behind the scenes” videos and articles detailing the work that went into the campaign before and during its run. No one was winging anything, and nothing was left to chance. And it showed.

So what else do you think B2B marketers can learn from the Old Spice campaign? Leave a comment and let me know what I left out.

About the author: Erika Kerekes directs social media products and programs for, including Answers, a B2B Q&A forum.

Comments: 41


1. Sean McVey  |  my website   |   Thu Sep 16, 2010 @ 08:18AM

Thanks, I had seen the commercial but didn't know about all of those reply vidoes on YouTube. Pretty hilarious. I think you point about playing to people's emotions is important to recognize in the B2B world. People tend to think humor fits in only for product campaigns, but everyone has as sense of humor. The question is how to appeal to emotions while maintaining a professional reputation.

2. Erika Kerekes  |  my website   |   Fri Sep 17, 2010 @ 06:30AM

Sean, great point - where is the line between funny and inappropriate in a B2B setting? As an example of be appropriately funny in a B2B context, you should look at Kinaxis, a Canadian company that provides supply chain management solutions. They've invested a lot in humorous videos about...enterprise software and supply chain management. And they're really funny. Here's a link to a case study from a few months ago:

3. Mark  |  my website   |   Wed Sep 22, 2010 @ 08:17PM


just because a video goes viral doesn't mean it was a successful business or marketing strategy.

As others have pointed out, the actual sales increase was highly questionable.

The real lesson is not to confuse popularity with profitability.

Now if you'll excuse me i have some high quality invisible silk I want to sell to an Emperor.

4. jams123  |  my website   |   Thu May 15, 2014 @ 07:27AM

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