Proctor and Gamble's Old Spice brand and ad agency Wieden + Kennedy engaged in some wildly creative marketing this week by combining the real-time dissemination and personalization of social networks with the hottest guy I've ever seen in a towel. (Kudos as well to actor Isaiah Mustafa for his role in the unconventional project.) They seeded social networks with invitations to tweet questions to the Old Spice Man (i.e., the man your man could smell like if he didn't smell like a lady) and quickly developed hundreds of short personalized ads in response. The ads, which were produced over the course of two days, can be viewed on the Old Spice YouTube channel. George Stephanopoulos tweeted for advice on how Obama could win back female support, and the response ad is a keeper.
I am happy to engage in unpaid advertising on behalf of Old Spice as long as I can view and post videos of the hottest guy I've ever seen in a towel. However, two observations must be made:
Science fiction got here first. This effort reminds me of that scene from Minority Report where The Gap performs an unobtrusive eye scan on each customer as they enter the store, does a database dip for name and prior purchases, then greets you by name and asks if you're enjoying those khakis you bought 10 days ago. Kinda like that, except Facebook hasn't figured out how to perform eye scans, and retailers don't have realtime granular access to that shadowy database where our credit card purchasing patterns are already stored. Yet.
Social networks aren't being built for altruistic purposes, to enable distant friends and families to share digital love across the miles. They are being built to sell you stuff, not that there's anything wrong with that.
Silverfish handcatch indeed.