Ballin’ It Up: Old Spice Wins the Internet

The Internet has been all a twitter (and YouTube-er) about this new Old Spice marketing campaign. And I can’t say I blame them. As members of the advertising community have pointed out Old Spice is playing online advertising perfectly.

The genius of the campaign stems not just from the humor of the ad, or even the viral nature of the videos. The campaign has also started responding to viewers’ questions. On Old Spice’s Twitter page fans can ask actor, former NFL player and resident Old Spice hunk Isaiah Mustafa questions and in turn receive a video response. The idea seems to have caught on as several high profile people have joined in.

The Old Spice Guy has answered queries by Ellen Degeneres

GQ Magazine

And a marriage proposal

Obviously social media business community is all about the interactive nature of the ads. The blog Bizcommunity dubbed it a “brilliant synergy of comedy, creative genius and an innate understanding of internet culture.” Sadly, this synergy was shortlived as the team of writers it took to respond so quickly and effectively to viewers’ queries could only keep up for so long. By the end of the day, July 14 the last message was rolled out.

Normally I’m not one to go on and on about intelligent marketing campaigns. My fascination with brilliant advertising is usually confined to epic monologues delivered by Mad Men’s Don Draper (Season 4 premiere this Sunday!) To tell you the truth I don’t really care that Old Spice’s number of twitter followers more than doubled as a result of the campaign. This being a vaguely humorous blog I’m way more interested in the use of humor as a technological response. As I’ve previously written the sticking power of humor is due to the fact that it is an everyday method of sensemaking. Joking around has always been a way for people to respond to the world around them, especially in periods of change.

The brilliance of the Old Spice ads lies in the ways that the humor is the primary way in which the technological possibilities of the Internet are realized. Without the social media conditioning to which we have rapidly grown accustomed, the jokes would not work. In “getting the joke” advertisers, marketers and viewers can participate in fulfilling the potential of Internet to change social relations. And this only happens with humor.

Am I crazy? Sure, but this is not necessarily the reason why. One day I’ll teach a class on this, but for right now I’m throwing this idea out there: humor has always been one of the primary ways in which we have articulated social, political, and technological changes. This is not about Old Spice. I am not saying that this campaign is an important historical moment. I mean I probably could, I am getting a PhD in Rhetoric after all, but I won’t. What I am saying is it is indicative of how humor has always been at the forefront of responding to social changes. I haven’t quite figured it out but I’m willing to bet one could trace developments throughout Western History by tracking changes in how comedy, humor, and satire are implemented. Ok so maybe I am saying that my dissertation will kinda be about Old Spice. I bet I could make it work.

In the meantime I think I am satisfied in claiming that this past week, Old Spice Balled Up the Internet.


About Joe Faina

Rhetoric & Media Professor, Writer, Humorist

Posted on 07/20/2010, in Ballin It Up, Old Spice, social media and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. These videos literally kept me laughing for hours last week. Did you catch the response to George Stephanapoulous (Totally spelled that wrong.)

  1. Pingback: Ballin’ It Up: Ironic Intellectualism of Stewart Colbert and “Advocacy Satire” « Faination

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