Ad phrases that become catch phrases are nothing new, but what is new is that the commercials that spawn them are now the beginning, not the end of consumer engagement. When media flights for "spicy meatball" and "where's the beef?" ended, so did consumer involvement with content. But now the impact of brand messaging only begins with traditional ad buys, if content is compelling enough to inspire people to share it. The Old Spice spot has already exceeded 7 million views on youtube, numbers achieved because the spot went to social networks in conjunction with (not instead of) conventional buy on TV. (When Google gamed the value of running TV, its Superbowl spot which had been on youtube for weeks, jumped from a few thousand views to 4.4 million today.)
Evidence of even more successful engagement is when consumers not only share but repurpose content, inspired to spread the brand story themselves. As in this parody where Old Spice content is appropriated to spoof Apple. Why is appropriation good, some marketers may wonder, holding tight to their proprietary decks and brand bibles? Because consumers who not just share the story but participate in it, tend to be avid enthusiasts whose WOM messaging is likely to achieve far higher conversion rates.
According to Facebook, Old Spice "has been helping guys improve their mansmells for 71 years." Interestingly, the babe-baiting strategy behind "I'm on a horse" is the very same one executed in this spot from the 80s. One can only guess how creative impact might have been extended if social, um, tools had been in place.