When most men (mostly single and even some married) hear the word “engagement,” our hearts skip a beat (not in a good way), and we get this chilly sensation down the back of our necks (again, not in a good way). But in the wonderful world of strategic communication, we’re talking about the type of engagement that ironically gives men (and women and children for that matter) a delightful, heartbeat-skipping warm neck sensation — in a good way this time. I’m talking about when a campaign or piece of creative is so compelling that it not only grabs you by the virtual neck and gives your attention a good shake, but also it inspires you to interact with it in various ways.
The great tragedy of an awesome campaign is trying to figure out how to follow it up with something that is equally awesome… and to the same people. It’s the equivalent of leaving the stage on a high note, and then showing up back onstage five minutes later. Most marketers face this problem every day. They play an encore and just repeat the idea or completely come up with something new that falls flat… can you say #FAIL?
Only a few communicators find a successful way to solve this problem.
By the fall of 2010, Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign had already received lots of industry accolades, including the Cannes Film Lion Grand Prix. It broke new ground by having spokesman Isaiah Mustafa star in hundreds of YouTube videos and respond to bloggers and fans directly who commented about the campaign. But they weren’t sure how to follow it.
They decided that instead of abandoning the campaign or risking repeating themselves, they would get back to basics and focus on engagement. They created a storyline around Mustafa’s character that centered on him having a foe that would challenge him for his throne. And who better than Fabio? Yes, Fabio, the proverbial European romance-novel sex symbol who has become an indelible icon of pop culture.
The result? 150 “Mustafa vs. Fabio” videos that netted more than 22 million YouTube views in one week and held the number one and number four spots for most-viewed channels for the month on YouTube. The campaign drew more than 53,000 YouTube comments and 68,000 new Facebook fans.
Moral of the story: Engagement is key to the initial and ongoing success of any campaign, and you don’t have to completely chuck (or completely repeat) an idea to keep your audience in love with your brand. In this sense, both women and men will welcome the opportunity to be engaged — just not necessarily to one another. Ouch. OK, maybe that was too harsh. Don’t tell my wife.