The Man Your Man Could Read Like: Old Spice, Isaiah Mustafa, and Libraries

If you have watched television since February, especially sports programming, then you have likely seen at least one of the Old Spice commercials, The Man Your Man Could Smell Like, starring Isaiah Mustafa. The commercial has spawned many parodies — mostly focusing on the vocal style used, the quick cuts used, and shirtlessness.

But recently, Old Spice decided to take the campaign viral — and did so with a major splash. Over the course of  three days, Old Spice posted 180 short videos on YouTube. The vast majority of the videos directly responded to tweets  — and there was even a marriage proposal.

These are two of my favorites:



According to NPR (with an interesting overview of the phenomenon),

The YouTube videos managed to attract more online views in 24 hours than Susan Boyle and President Obama’s victory speech.

What this campaign effectively shows is that it is possible for a commercial entity to create a viral campaign — but it takes a great deal of planning and buy-in, “using a team of around 35 people working 12 hours a day for its three day duration.”

Seriously, this takes work — and letting customers or fans play an important role:

It’s all about customer participation.

“Another lesson from this successful program is the value of giving up some control, which happened at several different levels… A typical ad takes months to plan and execute … Consumers were asked for their input, then a team of social media experts, marketers, writers, videographers and actor Isaiah Mustafa were sequestered to produce over 150 different video responses over the course of two days.”

So what does this have to do with libraries? After the jump!

Some of the best and funniest marketing for libraries comes from this Old Spice campaign. First, the official Old Spice campaign had a video response to this tweet: @wawoodworth  LISNews author Andy Woodworth) wrote “ATTN LIBRARIAN TWEEPS: Need help getting @oldspice guy to say a few words regarding libraries. RT plz. Thanks.”

The Old Spice Guy responded thusly,

Books available en masse at your local library:


But Old Spice has even served as the parody/satire or as I prefer to call it,  “cultural platform” for this campaign for Brigham Young University’s Harold B. Lee Library:

Anything is possible when you’re in the library:


This ad campaign has led in a strange direction that has nothing to do with the original products. And there is even a Twitter petition for @oldspice guy to do an ALA READ poster “I’m at a library. Reading a book.” …on a horse.


Edit: NPR thinks libraries are on the road to a pop culture (and popularity) resurgence:

mark my words, once you’ve got Old Spicy on your side and you can sell a couple of YouTube parodies in a couple of months, you’re standing on the edge of your pop-culture moment. Librarians: prepare.

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