The Ad Your Ad Could Sound Like. With Eric Kallman, Creator of the Old Spice Ad.
Hello, Ladies. If you were alive and online in 2010, you know the Old Spice ad. I’m on a horse, right?
I grew up with that ad and it was one of my key inspirations for getting into the marketing space.
Which is why I was so pumped to host Eric Kallman, co-founder of Erich&Kallman and one of the main creative brains behind the entire ad campaign. In this episode, I speak to Eric:
- Why grandiose messaging can be trumped by directness
- The (very rapid!) creative process behind the Old Spice ad and its 180+ video strong social campaign
- What creating a breakthrough ad is really all about
Tune in, this was a great episode.
That’s the sound of one of the campaigns that not only got me into marketing but still has me using the same brand of deodorant.
The Old Spice Man Your Man Could Smell like campaign had over 180 videos created over just a few days, had more views in their first 24 hours than Obama’s victory speech, and become an incredible example of what a brand’s social media interaction could look like.
But first, my name is Eytan Buchman, you’re listening to Marketers in Capes, and I do have one word of warning; we had to fall back on a phone call and the quality isn’t amazing but neither is the quality of the audio from Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech and people seem to like that. So I’m sticking with this. Anyway, my guest today was one of the two guys that was behind this amazing campaign.
My name is Eric Kallman. I started as a copywriter, working at the big creative agencies here in the States, ChiatDay in New York City. I was a copywriter on the Skittles “Taste the Rainbow” campaign, as well as a bunch of other products and services for ChiatDay. (fade out)
Sorry, I’m going to skip through a bit but believe me – Eric’s been around. Let’s stop….here
And then three years ago, I started my own creative ad agency here in San Francisco. It’s called “Erich & Kallman … We are a full service creative ad agency.
Eric’s vision touches on something we also see in the status world – that overproducing doesn’t always mean overdelivering.
But we’re hoping to be is a Wieden+Kennedy with less people.…… . I ran a fast food account at a small agency for a small fee, with a team of seven people. I ran a fast food account at a large agency for a much larger fee, with the same group of seven people. We staff accounts properly, and some projects take five or six. Some take ten or twelve but there’s no … I don’t know 360° campaign, commercial campaign that honestly takes more people than that.
I think that as marketers, we tend to want to be part of something that’s big, right? We aim for things that paint these sweeping vistas. Well that’s not what Eric does. It’s not his MO.
So historically, I think creative teams take creative briefs without selling, say any deodorant, and they try to elevate it and give it this top line emotion and emotional feel. Something that my partner and I were good at at the time, is something I think is probably a signature of all my work, is that instead of elevating it to some kind of grandiose level, we communicate to create a brief incredibly directly…Wieden+Kennedy had just started establishing Old Spice as being a spokesman, a handsome man, a manly man speaking to camera. And that’s what they used to do in the ’50s, so when Wieden won the account, they brought it back that way and they had a spokesman speak to camera. …
So they got this concept of a person speaking to a camera. But it really came together when Eric combined the simple idea of talking directly to listeners…with the real target of the ad.
The strategists came and told us that, “Hey, body wash even though it’s for men, like 70 or 80% of it is bought by women. Either the wives or girlfriends of the guy who uses it.” So being singletons like I am and my old partner Craig might be, we literally said, “Okay, we’re gonna have a guy talk to camera, but this time he’s gonna talk to women.” And the first words written down were, “Hello ladies. Look at your man, now back at me,” and it went from there. I think it’s less of some grandiose, “Oh how do we get there?” thing and more of sticking to the briefs and just making it as entertaining and breakthrough as possible.
That word – breakthrough – it’s important. We’re going to get back to it in a second. But first, I wanted to dive into the creative process of how this came together. And I always assumed that this ad was overproduced and then finessed to look grungy. I was wrong – it got its oomph from extra body wash inventory and a serious time crunch.
Yeah, I think well what had happened was Procter & Gamble, which are the huge advertiser and they own Old Spice. They have an extra 30 seconds on the Superbowl because they’re such a large advertiser, and they had a big warehouse of body wash they wanted to get rid of. So that’s why they came to Wieden+Kennedy and said, “Let’s do our Superbowl spot for this body wash so we can be done with it.” It was last second that they came to us. I think my partner and I had two or three days to write on it, and I think we came together with about a half dozen scripts in a day or two. If I remember correctly, we went to our creative directors, we showed those six or seven scripts and one of them was the whole script in its entirety.
The end of one of the other scripts ended with the line, “I’m on a horse.” We took “I’m on a horse,” and put it at the end of that kind of hero script and there it was.
You know the way you’re not supposed to change your first guess on SATs? That’s what this was – trusting your gut when you have an intuition about what’s right
It definitely wasn’t too much thought put into it. That might’ve been one of the reasons why it came out so great. It was less thinking, and just more people making logical decisions and thinking of it as the craft.
Eric’ ad – as far as I see it – worked because it was different, creating a direct connection with the viewer. Someone at the agency picked up that the comments on the YouTube ad were comments to the main actor, not about him. So the guy who saw that – Isiah Tait – decided that to kick off a social media response campaign. And it worked.
The comments were directed directly at Isaiah, the actor, I love you, you’re so sexy, you’re the coolest guy ever, so he said, “We should have Isaiah respond, since they’re communicating directly with him.” That was kind of the genesis of the idea.
A great team of digital producers and other folks threw together in a little studio in Portland, just up the road from Wieden, a tiny set and kind of made an assembly line of steps, where people were searching the internet to find stuff being said. . They would then shoot them to myself and my partner Craig. We quickly write up a script. Throw them on the teleprompter, Isaiah would read it. That got shot off, edited, tagged and posted on the internet, and yeah. Craig and I sat down, we did it for two days and we did something … I think it’s around 180 of them in two days. Luckily, a lot of that voice was just kind of silly, dumb talk. It was kind of the style that my partner and I liked to write, and so it’s kind of maybe our style to begin with. It came easy to us, so … It was an exhausting two days of writing, but at the same time it was super fun.
According to Eric, the trick to a marketing campaign that works write is something that can cut through the noise.
I don’t lie to myself and think that nailing the strategy means you’re making a breakthrough advertisement. You have to nail the strategy and communicate what needs to be communicated, but you have to do it in a way worth paying attention to. Worth putting down your phone for, and continuing to look at the T.V. for.
Old Spice isn’t the only place he’s done that either
Before Old Spice my old creative partner, and I did the Skittles campaign. The “Taste the Rainbow” stuff, with all the really … When the Skittles was reborn, with the “Taste the Rainbow” stuff. With the really, really magical wacky situations happening in mundane real life. There’s a beard commercial where a guy interviewing for a job feeds the woman interviewing him Skittles with his beard while he’s interviewing. Or there’s a guy, everything he touches turns to Skittles. Or the pinata man who confronts the coworker who beat him with a bat, thinking Skittles would pour out of him. That Skittles campaign was the first thing I worked on in my career, and I was fortunate it was also a big success.
At the end of the day, we’re busy people. Eric’s work, to me, is a lesson in attention. Life is busy; you need to earn cutting through the noise. So take a look – is what you’re working on put-down-your-phone interesting? Is it forward-to-a-friend interesting?
If it’s not, keep on cracking. And go with your gut – it knows what’s right.
My name is Eytan Buchman, you’re listening to Marketers in Capes, and I’m on a horse.