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Adapting 'Old Spice' success to government

By Ed O'Keefe

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.

By Ed O'Keefe  | July 21, 2010; 12:02 PM ET
Categories:  What Would You Do?, Workplace Issues  
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Despite the excitement around the campaign, some close to the media industry spoken to by Lippmann Would Roll question the moral underpinnings of what one person called “advertainment” and using the audience to help sell products back to the audience. Questions about ethics are unlikely to stop future iterations of Old Spice’s campaign as advertising isn’t new to questionable ethics practices. As one advertising executive recently said, “People in advertising spend a lot of their time dealing with ethical choices, and those choices are almost never black and white. They’re subtle, shades-of-gray choices.” Read More:

Posted by: mlschafer | July 25, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

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