Why the Old Spice campaign is not Social CRM


Share on LinkedIn

It’s been hard to oversee or even neglect the Old Spice viral campaign lately. Harish Kotadia states that this is the best Social CRM campaign till date. Prem Kumar, to the opposite, states that Old Spice campaign is a good Social Media campaign, not Social CRM.

I agree with Prem Kumar that this is not a Social CRM campaign, and I would like to contribute some more arguments in this post.

Before we can state that this is not a Social CRM campaign I think it makes sense to highlight four key elements of a Social CRM campaign, in my humble opinion, first:

Tailored approach to specific Customer segments

I believe that Social CRM is extension of CRM. It is also therefore I think we should not forget the basics of CRM thinking. One of the most important basics of a good CRM approach is that one differentiates services, practices and approaches to different Customer segments. The idea behind this is that the best approach is an approach tailored to the needs and wants of a (specific) Customer (segment). Personally I believe that traditional segmenting techniques should be replaced by segmentations based on the Customer’s job and desired outcomes. Nevertheless a segmented approach to marketing campaigns is a key element of a (Social) CRM campaign.

Focus on your most valuable Customer first

Another important basic of CRM is that one puts his focus on Customers that are of most (potential) value to the company. Concepts like Customer Lifetime Value, share of wallet etc provide us with some good indicators to assess which Customers are (potentially) our most precious ones. The general thought is, that if you understand why these Customers are your most valuable Customers you can try to find or create more of these Customers. It’s not difficult to understand that this would seriously increase your marketing ROI.

What’s new in Social CRM is that we are now better able to see how word-of-mouth works, and we have better capabilities in understanding how Customers are connected with other (potential) Customers and how these networks function. We are even getting closer every day in understanding how one Customer influences other (potential) Customers. Of course this is far from true for most companies, but it’s clear that e.g. telco’s have been experimenting with this knowledge and capabilities. In relation to the marketing ROI I mentioned in the paragraph above, in Social CRM, it therefore makes sense to not only focus on Customers with (potential) high profitability or LTV, but also with high referral or network value.

Focus on value for the Customer

Furthermore Social CRM is about creating value for all stakeholders. A good Social CRM campaign therefore should not only aim at creating value for the company in the likes of increased sales, it should also create value for the Customer. Smart companies understand what drives value (in use) most for their Customers and focus their efforts on improving or emphasising those qualities of their product/service/experience. Smart companies not only measure what’s important to them, they also measure whether it was important to their Customers. This feedback should definitely be used (and shared internally) to improve and/or optimize your products and/or services in general and your marketing campaigns in specific.

Customer generated WOM

Last, but not least, is that I firmly believe that Word of Mouth is most valuable when it is Customer generated. Nevertheless research on the impact of a referral program in the German banking industry (PDF), proved that the Customers acquired through such a program proved to be 16 % more valuable (in terms of Lifetime Value) than Customer acquired through other campaigns. This is good news, because it proves that company stimulated WOM can be effective too. I still believe though that it is imperative to leverage your own Customers, not just anyone on the street, or on-line for that matter, because of the obvious reason that Customers will not want to throw away their hard earned social capital with their friends and family. Thus I think it is still true that a Social CRM campaign is based on starting with your own Customers, even if it is initiated or stimulated by yourself.

As a consequence of the above four key elements of a Social CRM campaign, I think it is safe to say that the Old Spice campaign, however successful in terms of eyeballs, viral effect and maybe even sales, is not a Social CRM campaign, because:

  • It was clearly targeted to hit an audience as wide as possible. It may have been designed to appeal to women more than man, but that’s as far of a segmenting approach I could see in it.
  • Although they have tried to engage celebrities, I think due to the lack of segmentation, they did not focus their campaign on their most valuable Customers either. It looks like they tried to engage celebrities because of their “influencer” roles, and it worked. I doubt though any further thinking in terms of referral or network value was behind all this. Unless of course they have established a measurement framework that allows them to track how many bottles of Old Spice they sold as a consequence of the specific message they made for a specific celebrity or any of the other people they answered a question for.
  • I fail to see how value for the Customer has been created here, other them some temporary “entertainment value”. If this is the key driver for value creation to their Customers, I’m willing to give them “this one” btw ;). And I would love to hear what this campaign has learned them about their Customers and the product they provide. Maybe I’ll be surprised.
  • Foremost I think this is not a Social CRM campaign since it did not leverage their Customers, but mainly tried to leverage anyone. For all we (and they) know, non of the people engaging in the campaign actually used, will use, recommended or will recommend the product itself.

To conclude: Sales may be up, but I did not find any evidence that P&G has been leveraging the campaign to connect with their Old Spice Customers and develop a long lasting relationship with any of them. Maybe the P&G marketeers should take a lesson or two from their colleagues at the innovation department...

This concludes my short analysis of the Old Spice Social Media viral campaign. Let me know what you think. What do you think should be key-elements to a good Social CRM campaigning approach? Feel free to share in the comments.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


  1. Wim, your points are well stated. As always, you take the high road on what CRM (and Social CRM) should be.

    However, I’d like to point out that there are many other types of “Social CRM” being bandied about that don’t appear to meet your criteria.

    Not to pick on any one app in particular, but let’s take social media monitoring which helps companies listen to the “social customer.” Good stuff, but…

    1. Not targeted — because they listen to customers and non-customers alike, most can’t be identified
    2. Not focused on valuable customers — same reason as above. Unless the social data can be connected to real customers, it provides trends but not actionable data to a specific customer or segment.
    3. Doesn’t focus on value for the customer. Yes, eventually Voice of Customer program will deliver value IF the company takes action. But monitoring alone doesn’t deliver any value.
    4. Value is not co-created. Again, the SCRM apps are about listening, not delivering value.

    I think I could make a similar case for community solutions, such as those from Lithium and Jive which recently made the Gartner MQ for Social CRM. Most forums don’t segment by customer value, for example.

    Just pointing out that you seem to setting the SCRM bar pretty high! Not sure there are many examples yet that would meet your criteria.

  2. Hi Bob,

    You make some valid points, to which I have a few comments.

    First of all we need to see the difference between the approach and the tools. Indeed Social Media Monitoring tools do not listen by themselves to targeted Customers. I think though Social Media montoring allows you to find places where your Customers talk about you. It may not be easy to see the difference between Customers and non Customers at first glance, but it surely is possible. For many, non high-interaction, companies it may even mean that they can now actually establish one-to-one relationships, where that was not possible without these tools. A way to further that relationship could well be by vesting online communities.

    On your point with regard to segmenting by value, I think we should look beyond financial value. I don’t see referral and network value as additional to lifetime or transaction value, but as different. The combination of the three could be most powerful, but when the financial component is not (directly) available, other parameters that show high correlation with financial components could work instead.

    Above all it is important to be aware that not every Customer is the same, that you’re not of same value to all Customers and that not all Customers are of the same value to you.

    Finding and creating Customers to whom you represent a great contributer for creating value AND who create most value for you, is not new thinking. What’s somewhat new is that we need to find different ways of measuring and proving what’s of value to the company. Referral and/or network value are some good concepts to start with, but there could be more. And it’s not difficult either, unless you’re not thinking about this stuff, before you start.

    Last, but not least: the bar is high indeed. In this respect I like the comment made by @themaria on my post here:”If you can call it “campaign”, then it’s not SocialCRM”.

    Stuff to think about..

  3. I’d like to make a suggestion. Maybe social media monitoring is social media monitoring. It’s a tool. Social CRM is a concept. It *might* be a part of a CRM initiative but only if it’s in context of the object of your relationship, a contact. So far, we haven’t seen that. If it’s in the context of itself, it’s just a silo and really begins breaking down the way I look at CRM and SCRM (silo free ultimately).

    Social CRM cannot be one technical silo vs another, or more than one functional silo over another. That’s like saying a Help Desk solution is CRM. It’s not. It’s a piece of an overall set of tools that would be required to support an entire CRM initiative. If you can’t tie them all together at the focal point of the relationship (the person(s)) then they are going to make our jobs harder, not easier.

    Social CRM is what it is. It will never be software – nor will it be a marketing campaign. Of course I will lose that battle and the software companies will win, but I like to remain consistent.

    Mike Boysen
    Effective CRM

  4. Brilliant post, Wim, and great comments from Bob Thompson and Mike Boysen. To paraphrase @themaria, a campaign is *not* a relationship; and amusing millions of people with even the most clever special effects will not necessarily create anything more than fleeting awareness–much less a single long-term brand-loyal customer.

    The idea of some species of celebrity “influencers” is also simplistic and tired, except maybe when targeting tweens or NASCAR fanatics. Each one of us is an “influencer” for categories that matter to us and for products within those categories that delight us; it’s at the heart of WOM. The Old Spice spots, as clever as they are, are *remark-able* only as entertainment; I’ll be interested to see where the sales figures are three months from now.

  5. Good discussion, but I have to agree with Bob that your definition of social CRM seems a bit narrow for my tastes.

    Although we have a fancy formal definition of Social CRM, a simple way of looking at it is merely applying social media to the way you market, sell, and serve your customers.

    Branding campaigns such as this are important types of marketing to raise brand awareness or shape brand perceptions. Remember, awareness and consideration come before conversion in marketing campaigns.

    So leveraging social media such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter to execute a branding campaign is an example of social CRM.

    But I would even argue that this does meet (most of) your criteria after all.

    1. Segmentation – by nature of executing this campaign in social channels they were likely going after a particular segment. Check out the folks who asked questions in their Facebook page. Lots of younger males – likely a segment that this brand is highly under penetrated within. It is also a safe bet that market research shows the brand perception of Old Spice as “your father’s cologne” for males in their 20’s and 30’s – also the age range of one of the highest volume user groups of social media.

    2. Highest value customers – one of your definitions of value was referral value. Users of social media have a higher potential to refer and the younger generation are indeed social buyers (at scale when enabled by social media). Agree we cannot track specific campaign results, but this is true with all branding campaigns versus direct marketing.

    Perhaps our difference in perspective is that you just don’t see branding campaigns as CRM. But I know my relationships to my suppliers are shaped by my perception of them and what their brand stands for. This perception can be driven based on my personal experiences, through brand messages, or through my friends I trust. This is why we say branding is part of CRM, and therefore Social CRM

    3. Create value – if I purchase the product and it meets my needs, then they have created value for me. But I won’t purchase the product if I am unaware or if I have the perception that it is my father’s cologne and does not meet my needs. Perception is reality and the goal of this campaign was to change perception (which i think it went a long way in doing).

    4. WOM – although indeed it is safe bet that many of these folks were not their customers, they were indeed prospects. And remember that all customers were once prospects before they were customers. My relationship with a company does not start once I buy – it starts long before.

    But as you point out, WOM marketing is Indeed powerful when someone I trust recommends a product to me. I just think saying that all social CRM campaigns have to have customer recommendations is a bit narrow and frankly – academic.

    Summary: All I can tell you is that I am in their target market and previously had a negative brand perception of Old Spice. I am avid user of social media and this met my need for entertainment value and helped to (start to) change my negative perception. I will certainly remember this ad and smell Old Spice next time I am shopping for colognes instead of simple dismissing it like I have for the last couple of decades. And who knows, I may take my relationship with them to the next level and purchase their product. But I can guarantee i will tell my friends about this ad…and who knows what they will do or who they will tell…


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here