Adapting ‘Old Spice’ Success to Government

By on 7-22-2010 in News

Adapting ‘Old Spice’ Success to Government

If you haven’t watched the Old Spice TV and Internet ads, you’re missing one of the most successful viral campaigns in history.

Actor and former football star Isaiah Mustafa, who wows viewers with his bare-chested, smooth-talking delivery, has produced video replies to hundreds of online queries or comments tweeted to him by Web users, including questions from George Stephanopolous and Alyssa Milano.

Naturally, others are trying to figure out how to duplicate Old Spice’s success.

Writing this week on GovLoop (better known to some as the “Facebook for Feds”), Gwynne Kostin, director of new media and citizen engagement at the General Services Administration, shared four lessons federal agencies should take from the ads’ success as they move more information and services online:

1.) Speed: “The Old Spice team created video responses in real time. Someone — sometimes famous and sometimes not — would tweet, and in minutes there was a response. And it was good. We hadn’t seen this level of real time before, but we like it.”

2.) Planning: “How do you make 180 videos, have them distributed across multiple networks and garner 11 million views in 3 days? Very carefully. This was a well-designed and executed plan. … Setting up a Twitter account days into a crisis is much less effective than building a follower base and expertise to broadcast information that scales.”

3.) Talent: “Does your staff look at the Old Spice campaign and wish they could do something like that? You want high quality output? Find and nurture the folks who can do that work. And give them the space.”

4.) Trust: “It’s up to the folks in dot-gov to build the trust and to show the judgment necessary to take on risk. You create trust by building relationships, by showing success on smaller projects, by understanding the needs of the organization and developing programs to meet mission goals.”

But GovLoop users are skeptical they could ever replicate the Old Spice success in the public sector, thanks to rules, regulations, and the naturally slow pace of government. What do you think? What would you do? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

The Washington Post
By Ed O’Keefe | July 21, 2010; 12:02 PM ET


  1. I don’t know about all that but I do know Old Spice smells good and Alyssa is awesome! Beyond that I’m not so sure about.

  2. Unfortunately, I have to agree with the GovLoop users who are doubtful that governments (anywhere) could replicate the success of the Old Spice Guy in the public sector, at least on a consistent basis.

    I’d be content to see them learn a few of the “Public Speaking Lessons from the Old Spice Guy” and put them into practice every day:


  3. Who cares about this old spice. It boring hope they cut this off air soon! Should have gotten a more good looking man LOL…