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    Published on: July 28, 2010

    by Kate McMahon

    Okay, I confess. Along with millions of American women, I have fallen for the Old Spice Guy.

    But I am not writing this column because he is an ex-NFL hunk who looks incredibly hot wearing nothing but a bath towel, has a sultry baritone that could melt an iceberg and I want an excuse to watch his videos.

    No, I’m writing this column because the Old Spice Guy revolutionized interactive marketing on the social web this month, rewriting the playbook for a successful viral campaign and elevating consumer dialogue to a new level.

    Portrayed by former NFL wide receiver Isaiah Mustafa with wit, over-the-top bravado and a chiseled physique, the Old Spice Guy made his debut in an award-winning ad during the Super Bowl in February.

    Sales of Old Spice, a 73-year-old stodgy staple from Procter and Gamble, skyrocketed after the “Smell like a man, man” ad premiered, with recent sales figures showing a 107 percent hike over the past three months. A more recent body wash commercial opened with Mustafa asking “Ladies, does your man look like me? No. Can he smell like me? Yes.”

    The folks at P&G were smart enough to realize that women purchase 70% of the shower gel used by men in their household, and tailored a tongue-in-cheek “manly man” campaign that both women and men found entertaining. It was laugh out loud funny.

    Fast forward to July 13, when Old Spice sent out a tweet urging followers to post questions through Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and for one day the Old Spice Guy would answer those he deemed worthy with “incredibly manly and witty and amazing responses.”

    They asked and he answered with 186 personalized videos responses to regular folks, social networking trendsetters, and celebs such as Ellen DeGeneres, Alyssa Milano, Ashton Kutcher, and Ryan Seacrest. Mustafa even delivered a marriage proposal complete with candles and a ring (the recipient later tweeted back that her answer was yes). Cranked out over 48 hours in a Portland, Oregon studio, the responses were as creative and deadpan as the commercials.

    Here’s what happened next:
    • As of July 18, Old Spice had become the No. 1 all-time most-viewed sponsored channel on YouTube, with 94 million views.

    • In one week, the 186 videos generated more than 40 million views, eclipsing the nearly 29 million viral videos of Mustafa’s four original TV ads.

    AdAge reported that Old Spice saw its Facebook fan interaction jump 800%, up to more than 700,000 followers.

    • Traffic to was up 300 percent, and its Twitter account soared by 2700 percent to more than 93,000, according to PRWeek.

    So what is the takeaway on this for smaller marketers, retailers and service providers who don’t have a shirtless Lothario like Mustafa and an award-winning ad agency such as Portland’s Wieden + Kennedy?

    Plenty. Quite simply, Old Spice identified its target audience – woman and men – and created a distinctive persona for the brand. It then used every social networking tool available to connect with its consumers in real-time. The brand reached out to bloggers and tech heavyweights and core consumers, encouraged them to be witty to be recognized, and made it easy for everyone to get in on the action and share the posts and videos with their friends. Even the hard-to-please advertising media columnists are calling the campaign “brilliant.”

    The Old Spice Guy’s final response/farewell to his friends on the internet drew 3.4 million views on YouTube.

    I have a feeling he’ll be back, and as a dedicated MNB columnist, I’ll just have to watch. It is a tough job, but somebody has to do it.

    Comments? Send me an email at .
    KC's View:

    Published on: July 28, 2010

    Dow Jones reports this morning that Winn-Dixie plans to close 30 older stores in locations still to be announced. The company, which has been struggling to rebuild its image and sales since emerging from bankruptcy, also plans to eliminate “120 corporate and field support jobs as it consolidates its four operating regions into three,” according to the story.
    KC's View:
    Never an easy decision, but I have to believe that Winn-Dixie will be stronger for the move. You have to know when to fold ‘em...

    Published on: July 28, 2010

    Longtime readers of MNB likely are familiar with my constant refrain that print is in a kind of inevitable and extended death spiral that eventually will make things like newspapers, magazines and perhaps even physical books a distant, lovely and dusty memory. I know it irritates a lot of you, and even I’m not happy about it...but I’ve believed for sometime that this is the way things are going.

    Well, not so fast...

    The New York Times had a story the other day about how a French editor and publisher has created a trio of daily newspapers specifically designed for kids. There is Mon Quotidien, or My Daily, for 10-14 year olds; Petit Quotidien, or Little Daily, for 7- to 10-year-olds; and L’Actu, which translates roughly into The Headlines for 14- to 17-year-olds.

    Not only are the kids reading these papers - and indeed, they are printed on actual paper - but at Mon Quotidien, they actually help to edit the paper and choose stories.

    “In an age when many children are addicted to computers, iPods and iPads — and when newspapers are feeling the pressure — Mon Quotidien appears to be an anomaly,” the Times writes. Parents are willing to pay for the papers, and the total circulation of the three is over 165,000 - and the whole publishing enterprise is operating in the black.

    What this proves, I think, is that maybe traditional forms of communication - or even traditional business models - still have a long as the people running them continue to invest in making them relevant.

    Mon Quotidien and its siblings seem to have cracked that code, at least for the kids’ market. To this point, however, there seems to be no evidence that the reading habits that kids are developing around these newspapers are translating to their adult lives. But that may say more about the relevance of many French newspapers than about the attitudes of these kids.

    Whether picking up a newspaper or walking into a retail store - or, for that matter, turning on a computer - people want to be engaged, enlightened, informed and entertained. The success of Mon Quotidien tells us that if we are good and aggressive marketers, not shooting for the lowest common denominator but rather shooting for something better than that, we don’t necessarily have to abandon traditional models. But we’d better be really, really good at what we do...because mediocrity is the fastest way to short-circuit the whole enterprise and disenfranchise the young people on whom we will depend for our livelihoods.

    And that’s my Wednesday morning eye-opener.

    - Kevin Coupe
    KC's View:

    Published on: July 28, 2010

    The Consumer Confidence Index is out for July, and it was 50.4, down from a revised 54.3 during June, which was itself down significantly from 62.7 in May.
    KC's View:
    I’m no economist, but it isn’t hard to figure out that this probably has more to do with the continuing high unemployment rate as much as anything else - a situation likely to have political as well as economic implications as the year continues.

    Add to that the problems in the Gulf and the nonstop vitriol that we tend to hear out of Washington, and it is amazing that more people aren’t depressed about the economy.

    Published on: July 28, 2010

    Bloomberg reports that Walmart has hired Avril Conroy, formerly of TNK-BP, which is BP’s Russian joint oil venture, “to help lead its Moscow office ahead of a possible expansion into the country.” Common speculation is that Walmart is looking to acquire a Russian retailer as a way of expediting its entry into the Russian market, and Conroy worked for BP there from 2003 until just a few weeks ago.

    TNK-BP is in the news at the moment, as it happens. The new CEO of BP, which continues to suffer major public relations and profitability woes from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, is Robert Dudley, who ran TNK-BP from 2003 to 2008; Tony Hayward, who he is replacing, reportedly is moving to Russia to take on a non-executive director role with TNK-BP.
    KC's View:
    If I have to choose between working for BP or Walmart, I’m definitely choosing the latter. BP’s future seems like nine miles of bad road...


    Jon Stewart had a great line about the Dudley/Hayward exchange last night on “The Daily Show,” saying, “BP is like one big game of musical chairs. Except when the music stops there are still two REALLY nice chairs.”

    Published on: July 28, 2010

    The Washington Post reports that a new study released by the Environmental Working Group suggests that Americans may be exposed to bisphenol-A, also known as BPA, through the paper receipts being handed out at retailers that include Safeway; the environmental organization reportedly found “BPA on 40 percent of the receipts it collected from supermarkets, automated teller machines, gas stations and chain stores. In some cases, the total amount of BPA on the receipt was 1,000 times the amount found in the epoxy lining of a can of food, another controversial use of the chemical.”

    Bisphenol-A has been under fire because it is a compound found in many food containers that some believe can have a negative impact on the health of children - alters development of the brain, behavior and the prostate gland in children, before and after birth - who consume food or drink from these containers. One recent study suggested that 92 percent of food from metal cans is contaminated with BPA and that pregnant women should limit their intake of canned food and drink.

    According to the story, “Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst with the environmental group, says BPA's prevalence on receipts could help explain why the chemical can be detected in the urine of an estimated 93 percent of Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    “‘We've come across potentially major sources of BPA right here in our daily lives,’ Lunder said. ‘When you're carrying around a receipt in your wallet for months while you intend to return something, you could be shedding BPA into your home, into your environment. If you throw a receipt into a bag of food, and it's lying there against an apple, or you shove a receipt into your bag next to a baby pacifier, you could be getting all kinds of exposure and not realize it.’

    “What remains unknown is how much of the chemical that may rub off onto the hands is absorbed through the skin or whether people then ingest BPA by handling food or touching their mouths.”
    KC's View:
    Pernicious stuff. It has been my feeling for some time that BPA is going to be banned sooner rather than later. Stories like this one will only hasten the inevitable ... and pretty soon the only ones defending BPA will be the chemical companies that make it. in other words, companies with almost no credibility on the subject.

    Published on: July 28, 2010

    Advertising Age reports that the 2010 Census is “expected to count a record 50 million Hispanics, or one in every six U.S. residents, meaning the Hispanic population will have increased a stunning 42% from the previous census in 2000. (By comparison, the non-Hispanic population will have edged up just 5% in that decade.) It's also got scale: Hispanics are now the nation's second-largest consumer market after white non Hispanics, who are still the largest group at about 200 million.

    “But perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Hispanics in America is how closely they exemplify our idealized concept of 1950s America. They are young (their median age is about where the whole nation was in 1955) and more often live in large, traditional, married-with-children families with lots of participation from grandparents ... Over the next decade, as millions of bilingual Hispanic teens become young adults, we can expect their consumer behavior to move closer to other non-Hispanic young adults. However, the very large size of this segment suggests that the Hispanic culture is likely to remain strong, even among U.S.-born children.”
    KC's View:
    A shift that will have business, political and cultural implications. Get ready now.

    Published on: July 28, 2010

    The Chicago Sun Times reports that a federal lawsuit has been filed against Supervalu, charging the company with “dirty tricks” in its efforts to deny Walmart a location in Mundelein, Illinois. The plaintiffs are looking for $75,000 in reparations.

    According to the story, the suit was filed by the location’s owner, Rubloff Development Group.

    Supervalu has been getting a lot of attention lately for hiring a company called Saint Consulting Group that specializes in trying to keep Walmart out of communities by manufacturing an anti-Walmart campaign that is designed to look like a grass roots effort. Supervalu has denied the allegations made in the lawsuit.
    KC's View:
    I hate this story, because it just has the parties involved looking kind of cheap and unsavory. If you are going to compete with Walmart, just compete...don't pull this kind of nonsense.

    Published on: July 28, 2010

    Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports that Walmart’s desire to open a third store in Chicago - just weeks after a second store was approved by the city after years of delays and negotiations - “may hinge on whether the retailer is promising to pay workers at least 50 cents more than the Illinois minimum wage.”

    Members of the City Council reportedly have threatened to delay any action on a third floor until they get a satisfactory answer about wages and benefits to be paid to workers at a third store; there also is some discussion of waiting to see how the retailer’s second store affects local businesses before approving a third unit.

    Steve Restivo, a Walmart spokesman, tells Bloomberg BusinessWeek that while he cannot confirm a starting wage for a third store, the retailer’s intention is “to offer a competitive wage.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: July 28, 2010

    • The Oakland Tribune reports that “while the rest of the retail industry hunkers down and waits in vain for AWOL shoppers to return, Bay Area grocery chains are battling it out in a full-fledged price war that shows no sign of ending.” The newest competitor to add heat to the marketplace - Kroger, which announced that it will “open two 72,000-square-foot stores under the retailer's Foods Co. banner.”

    The goal, the story says is to “fill the void left by Lucky's and Albertson's that closed several years ago despite efforts to keep them.”
    KC's View:

    Published on: July 28, 2010

    • Supervalu announced that Pamela K. Knous, executive vice president and chief financial officer, will leave the company effective July 30 “to pursue other career interests.” She has been with Supervalu for more than a dozen years.

    Sherry M. Smith, currently senior vice president, finance at Supervalu, will serve as interim chief financial officer until the search is completed.
    KC's View:

    Published on: July 28, 2010

    I debated with myself long and hard before deciding to venture down this road. Here goes...

    The other day I got blasted over my reference to Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) as being for repeal of the just-enacted financial reform legislation, which includes provisions for reform and regulation of credit and debit card swipe fees. The criticism was legitimate, I thought, because I had accidentally left out the context and analysis that I originally intended; where I drew the line was when the writer described me as being “just another left-leaning cheerleader for disastrous policies,” which I thought was a little unfair.

    Then, yesterday, there was an email from someone looking to support me, saying that the original writer sounded like “a typical Fox News (i.e., radical) Republican: an arrogant, narrow-minded bully who can’t see past his own anger at the fact that his taxes might go up.  These people have absolutely no clue about what led to the mess we now face and are frantically searching for someone with D before their name to blame.”

    And now, there is another email, from MNB user Dave Vosteen:

    Does this idiot really think attacking the Republican Party is the way to go. I can’t believe you gave him the space. Are you kidding me?????? The only news network that doesn’t pander to the left. He is a complete idiot and feel free to forward this to the Jackass!!!!!!!  “Republican: an arrogant, narrow-minded bully.”

    Again the very phrase he accuses others of being he is himself!!!!! Tell him to go to hell and I am disappointed you would even give him the time of day. Are your left leanings coming out? I know we should all watch CNN and get the liberal left shoved down our throat and be like lambs led to die. What a typical democrat.

    You illustrate my broader point.  You think he is an overly biased bully...and an idiot.  He thinks people like you are the same thing.  "Tell him to go to hell"?  There's no civility in the discussion, no room for any sort of compromise, no room to say that on some issues and approaches, the other guy may have a legitimate argument, even if you disagree with him.

    “Left leanings?” When I ran the email from the more conservative reader, you didn't accuse me of having "right leanings"... because such a thing would never occur to you, because you think right is right and left is wrong.  The other side thinks that left is right and right is wrong.  The only thing that the two sides increasingly have in common is anger.  And if it continues unabated, you'll all have something else in common, at least from my perspective - increased political impotence.
    KC's View: