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Burson Digital MD Gets It Wrong on Old Spice Campaign

It’s apparent that things move a lot quicker in the media these days, but according to one PR executive, things should move equally as fast when tying a social media campaign to direct sales.

In a blog post, B.L. Ochman, managing director of emerging media for Proof Integrated Communications, the digital marketing arm of Burson-Marsteller, said the recent YouTube update to the Old Spice “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign “reeks,” because “it has no follow-up” and hasn’t driven sales.

“…you can’t eat, or pay bills with awareness. You gotta sell product,” she wrote. As many have pointed out to PRNewser, here are a few areas where Ochman is wrong.


First, as some commenters pointed out in Ochman’s post, the Old Spice YouTube campaign is a week old. Give it some time to see if it drives sales. Ochman herself linked to data showing sales were down, except that data was old and based on the original version of the campaign. (She has since noted that in her post.) Forbes reports data showing sales are actually up 7.9% — this data is also a bit old. It’s from June 13th, before the YouTube version of the campaign hit.

Regardless — the question here is how soon can a brand expect a sales bump from a campaign like this? And how does Ochman know that peppering the videos with email registration sign-ups and coupons would have made things better?

We reached out and asked Ochman to give PRNewser examples of digital campaigns she’s lead or worked on at Burson or at her previous gigs that had a direct sales impact, but so far have not heard back.

Meanwhile, Mike Norton, director of external relations for male grooming at P&G has been touting Nielsen data that shows a 107% increase in Old Spice Body Wash sales over the last month. Reached for comment, Norton told PRNewser, “The campaign has received a lot of attention. There are a number of very positive comments about the program. We are very pleased with the entire campaign.”

So, Wieden + Kennedy, the agency who created the campaign, has a happy client on their hands. Isn’t that what this business is all about?

Also, Old Spice has the most-viewed sponsored channel on YouTube and a 2700% increase in Twitter followers to over 83,000 followers since launch, according to PRWeek. These are certainly channels that the brand can use in the future, whether for other “content” campaigns or for direct response offers. Meanwhile, the Twitter feed for Proof Integrated Communications, the digital arm of a global PR firm where Ochman works, has 184 followers. Now, we know it’s not just about quantity, but still.

As Kevin Green of Digital Influence Group said in a comment to Ochman’s post:

Doesn’t the increase in connected consumers create significant opportunity to market products? Don’t get me wrong… I agree that more direct integration could have been included, but the value of the connection has to be worth a significant amount and the effort. Does engagement always have to include conversion? I would argue that it does not.

Of course, we haven’t even really taken into account that Old Spice man Isaiah Mustafa has appeared on “Good Morning America” and gazillion other media outlets, which is earned media the brand could never buy.

Despite all of this, a better answer right now to the “will it drive sales” question may still be: wait and see. Of course, that doesn’t make for a good, provocative blog post. It’s much better to say the campaign “reeks” and then point to old data.

Yes, the TV version of this campaign is six months old. However, the personalized YouTube videos from Old Spice man are relatively new and the jury is still out as to what business goals they could help the brand achieve.

UPDATE (4:49p.m.): It’s certainly worth adding that Ochman did just get in touch and seemed to backtrack a bit from her original post. “Clearly there are arguments on both sides, and only time will tell if the sales needle moves. The video campaign is only one week old,” she said.

Ochman added: “What I’m trying to say is that [Wieden] did absolutely brilliant use of social media, but dropped the ball before the finish line because there was no call to action…and [Wieden] is doing a lot of really extraordinary work these days. I think they are among the best in the field.”

In response to our question about what campaigns she has worked on that have generated sales, Ochman cited a campaign for an author that achieved high click through rates and the Clutter Control Freak Blog, which she created for online retailer Stacks and Stacks.

The blog “is still going strong, generating sales and community,” she said.

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