Old Spice Lesson #2: My Precious / by Dan Weingrod

John Winsor recently wrote a smart and provocative piece in Business Week regarding the Future of Advertising. In the article he decried how the relationship of trust between client and agency has been broken and cited client stories of "being charged $10,000 per second of video editing for clips to go on YouTube". In an amazing coincidence the first Old Spice response video was uploaded on July 12th, the publication date of Winsor's article. That first video posting was followed by 181 additional videos made over a period of two days in a call and response with social media channels, public figures and unknown tweeters.

Thinking about Winsor's article it struck me that what the Old Spice YouTube campaign has managed to do, aside from entertaining and influencing and selling more product, is to help start stamping out the kind of preciousness that we have always tended to grant video. This preciousness runs the gamut from the "$10,000 editing fees" to using standard production budgets for online video, insisting on "broadcast quality" when HD is now available on iPhones and other restraints left over from the world of broadcast television. The kind of production and budgeting assumptions that agencies have been used to will no longer work in the new world of adaptive marketing and social media. Video is now a viable social media channel and must be priced and produced with the kind of currency and flexibility that social media demands. This means lowering our "standards", simplifying production and, yes, even lowering fees to make them consistent with the nature of the medium and to allow for mistakes and regular response.

The Old Spice team was blessed with a number of excellent advantages including, I admit, a great, high quality, expensive broadcast video ad that set up the YouTube campaign. But with their willingness to lower the preciousness of the video approach in order to make it consistent with the nature of social media they brought one great thing back to the forefront: the power of great creative ideas. And that's one thing we shouldn't have to lower our standards for.