The sweet smell of success by Peter Knight
I read how the internet almost went into meltdown following 5.2 million views on You Tube for the latest commercial for Old Spice. “Old Spice” I thought, my granddad used to smell of that! I checked that I had read it correctly and yes, 5.2 million people tuned in to watch an advert for possibly the oldest of male fragrances.
At the time of writing, views of the commercial have risen to 15,874,611and possibly might have trebled again by the time you read this. In addition there are many variations, copies and spoofs of the ad some of which have been seen over 10 million times as well.
So over 15 million people have watched the commercial, for zero cost, other than the production, which is impressive by any standard. But are they the right 15 million and what impact has the commercial had on sales?
According to data experts Neilsen, in the last month sales of old spice have increased by a whopping 107%. So, this viral campaign has worked very well and it begs the question can this medium work for all businesses and estate agency in particular?
A viral campaign is one which, as the name suggests, acts like a virus being passed from one person to another. I’ve just asked Ann-Marie, Hayley, Hollie, Sharon and Sonya (the five women in closest proximity to my desk) and this very unscientific survey confirmed they were all aware and had seen the old spice commercial (although none had been persuaded to buy some for their husbands, boyfriends or brothers just yet) and each had received the ad from a friend who in turn had received it from a friend and so on. No doubt you might have received several virals, perhaps the German Coast Guard, “what are you sinking about” (Berlitz), Little Gordon (caterer.com) and Kylie Minogue riding a mechanical bull (Agent Provocateur). But whilst these stand out there are hundreds of thousands that don’t. Videos on You Tube receive over 2 billion views every day, 24 hours of video are uploaded every minute indeed more video can be found on You Tube in the next 60 days then appeared on all USA TV for the first 60 years – in other words everyone’s at it and very few get it right.
Successful virals are either funny, sexy, mind-blowing or best of all, all three combined. So the first thing you need to consider is can your company/product/service be presented in this manner? And I believe the answer for 90% of estate agencies is a resounding “yes.” However, if I asked you, “are you prepared for your business to be made fun of or to be portrayed in a way some will find offensive?” then I will gamble that most of you will say “no.” So here’s why so many virals, and for that matter estate agency communications generally, fail – they aren’t funny/clever/sexy enough to be passed on. Virals work when they are edgy, push boundaries, break taboos and potentially upset some people, perhaps more people than they please. Are you prepared to do this?
Business is a serious business but many of us would do well to stop for a moment and ask if it always has to be so and whether we can communicate in a way which entertains, amuses or even arouses our target audience rather than boring them as so many communications unfortunately do. The trouble is our tendency is to be conservative and eliminate risk so whilst you could potentially create something for negligible cost which might cause a 107% increase or more in sales, the majority of you will shy away and be scared off. Which is a shame, because if something that smells like my granddad can be an overnight hit just think what you can achieve.