What began as a clever marketing campaign has morphed into a viral web phenomenon, and the Old Spice Guy, Isaiah Mustafa, is milking it for all it’s worth. Mustafa’s clips on the Old Spice YouTube channel have racked up almost 55 million views, making it YouTube’s most viewed sponsored channel of all time. The Old Spice Guy, as he is known, is now taking viral web marketing to uncharted territory by uploading personal video responses to the bloggers, Twitter users and YouTubers who have commented on his clips. The shirtless towel-clad hunk with the baritone voice has even responded to random questions posed to him by Yahoo Answers users and created a thread on the Reddit link sharing site, answering queries there as well. Simon van Wyk, managing director of digital marketing agency Hothouse, said this was the first time he had seen this level of social media engagement in a marketing campaign. Mustafa has posted personalised video responses to everyone from Ellen Degeneres to Alyssa Milano to celebrity blogger Perez Hilton to even anonymous people on the internet. Dozens have been published so far with new clips going up every few minutes.
At least two related trends have contributed to the growing popularity of product placements into video: the move of videos from television to the Internet and the attempt by record labels to make videos a revenue source and not just a marketing tool for selling CDs. According to a report released last week by PQ Media, a research firm, the money spent on product placement in recorded music grew 8 percent in 2009 compared with the year before, while overall paid product placement declined 2.8 percent, to USD 3.6 billion. The money is often used to offset the video’s cost, which is usually shared by the artist and label. Patrick Quinn, chief executive of PQ Media, said that revenue from product placement in music videos totaled USD 15 million to USD 20 million last year, more than double the amount in 2000, and he expected that to grow again this year.