Christmas 2011 brought the welcomed return of the Old Spice Man, in his new re-incarnation as MANta Claus. MANta Claus, played once again by Isaiah Mustafa – the former NFL player turned actor – was on a holiday campaign to give a gift to every single person on the planet. All 7 billion of us. Now, that’s some mission.

How Video Seeding Is Done – The Return of the Old Spice Man

In case you somehow missed MANta Claus, here’s a sample from Day 1 of their original five-day campaign:

This article will trace the Old Spice campaign back to its 2010 roots to see what can be learned from some of their campaigns over the past two years.

Our first stop, is a visit to the Old Spice YouTube Channel, which automatically suggests that they are onto a winning formula. With 293,646 subscribers and 257,711,905 video views, Old Spice, the brand, is certainly doing very well.

But how have Old Spice achieved this success? How have they become a brand that is able to produce one successful campaign after another?

It all began with this campaign back in 2010: The Man Your Man Could Smell Like. For anybody who has been in hibernation for the past year and a half, here’s your chance to catch up on some vital viewing:

With this creative campaign, Old Spice achieved their entry into contemporary culture: which for a brand as old as Old Spice -founded in 1934 – is no mean feat.

Take a look at the Google search results for ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’:

Over 29,000,000 search results. To say that was ‘impressive’ would be an understatement.

And if we look at user-generated platforms too, such as Digg, the results are telling:

As you would expect from a popular campaign, there have been spin-offs and parodies that have followed.

One particularly impressive parody was, Study like a Scholar, scholar, made in order to promote studying at the Harold B.Lee Library. Amazingly, it has achieved 2,951,669 views on YouTube at the time of writing:

What came after the success of ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’?

More videos featuring the Old Spice Man began to appear. ‘Questions’ has done particularly well, achieving 21,674,152 views on YouTube.

Take a watch:

However, it was Old Spice’s Digital Response Campaign, July 12 – 14 2011, which was truly revolutionary. Over three days, Wieden + Kennedy filmed 186 personalised video responses, targeting specific fans and celebrities. These were made in response to comments posted on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.

The real-time video messages were posted on YouTube and sparked the most successful interactive campaign in history. On Day 1 alone, the campaign witnessed 5.9 million YouTube views, more than Obama’s Victory Speech. The campaign pushed the boundaries of what it means to be “interactive” and became an Internet sensation, generating over 52 million views on YouTube. Old Spice became the Number One body wash brand for men.

Here’s a little reminder of the campaign–Old Spice’s get-well message to Kevin Rose Digg CEO:

Another response, this time with an interesting political twist:

Nearly 70% of the responses were created for ordinary people, non-celebs on YouTube, Facebook or Twitter who were thrust into the spotlight thanks to Old Spice. Whilst celebrities added heft and reach, the use of non-celebs made the campaign much more participatory. It appeared as if the Old Spice guy could respond to anyone, at anytime, anywhere. Old Spice’s Twitter account gave consumers a linear timeline to follow the campaign whilst also serving as a simple way for people to submit questions. Select responses were posted on Old Spice’s Facebook page and the brand’s 50,000 + fans could help spread the word.

The unprecedented success of the Response Campaign, acts as a brilliant example of just how important it is too plan your campaign initially by seeding your video(s) onto the correct platforms. Use the likes of Digg, Delicious, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Vimeo, Facebook and Twitter. Similarly, if you have a relationship with a blogger of authority who will mention your story, this will give your campaign another chance of success, as you will be reaching directly into the blogosphere community.

But before seeding think: “Why would people want to spread this?”

It might be to deliver humour (Old Spice certainly ticks this box) or to give someone an ego boost. Perhaps its aim is to be incredibly useful / resourceful, or to spark an emotional engagement of some sort. Above all, if it is something original, people will feel more compelled to spread it.

What can businesses learn from the global success of the Old Spice campaign?

• Audience interactivity will humanise and in the case of Old Spice modernise your brand. Start up a dialogue with your fans and get them involved right from the start of your campaign.

• Audience recognition. It is the Old Spice Man who makes the commercial. Old Spice has successfully created a persona who drives their campaigns, to the extent that, all their social media is carried out by the Old Spice Man. He responds to our Facebook messages and tweets. As a user we do not feel like we are interacting with Old Spice the brand, but instead with Old Spice Man himself. This makes it much more personal.

Although, sadly, we can’t all hire the likes of Isaiah Mustafa to endorse our campaigns, channelling one individual, or a group of individuals to represent your brand, to the extent that they become synonymous with the product that they are promoting, will create impressive results. Here I am thinking of the non-celeb, 118118 men, and the wonders they have done for something as boring as a telephone directory.

• As mentioned before, originality is key. Ad agencies are fortunate to have the budget to produce compelling special effects. They can afford to have the Old Spice Man move smoothly from a bathroom to a boat and onto a horse, all in one sleek movement.

Yet even businesses with a much smaller budget can create videos with original content. Think about the idea of creating a series of videos too, if produced well they will keep your audience coming back for more.

Check out this low budget taxidermy commercial, which has achieved a phenomenal 10,271,923 views on YouTube:

• It might sound obvious but know your target audience. The Old Spice campaign initially started out as an attempt to stop women from buying feminine scented fragrances and body washes for the men in their lives, and instead to purchase something with a masculine smell. W + K were aware of a female’s purchasing power within a household. Yet they also knew that men would take an interest in The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’ campaign: its humour is universal and Mastafa provides an inspirational role model.

Old Spice’s entry into the 2012 market shows a different approach this time, as they address men directly. Blown Mind, the new video promoting their Danger Zone scent, features another former NFL player turned actor, Terry Crews, and comes with the tagline “Power is strength”. Gently spoken Isaiah Mustafa has been replaced with an angry, bulked-up Terry Crews.

The 15-second “Blown Mind” spot premiered first on Facebook and YouTube before having its television debut during the NFL’s NFC Division Playoff Game last weekend.

Blown Mind has already received 2,487,711 views on YouTube. If you haven’t already seen it, here’s one last treat for you:

I can’t wait to see where the rest of this campaign goes…