Past Present

Subservient Old Spice Man

Wow that was fast. Yesterday marked the end of a remarkable Old Spice viral Internet campaign. Over the course of just two days, July 13 and 14, Wieden+Kennedy created about 185 YouTube videos as responses to queries and posts on Twitter for the Old Spice man.

It was a fascinating take on interactivity. The team at W+K filtered through the Twitter posts and then, for each one that they selected, they’d write, film and post a video response. It definitely wasn’t real-time — but with video responses posted in just a couple hours to the original Tweet, and with such high production values — it was a remarkable response to the low-bandwidth nature of Twitter.

It definitely got a lot of buzz! The NYTimes gives some insights to the overall success. And this Fast Company article interview with the creators reveals some information about their process. Check out the Old Spice YouTube page to see all the videos — they’re pretty cool.

It’s interesting to compare this to The Subservient Chicken — a website created in 2004 by The Barbarian Group for Burger King and their agency CP+B. At the site, users could type commands to a video stream of a person in a chicken suit, which would then [sometimes] act out their commands.

When the site first launched, a time when video on the web was still new, people thought that maybe it really was a live feed. The vague feeling of voyeurism, intensified when combined with the immediacy of the response, was exciting. After people realized the responses were pre-recorded, they had a lot of fun discovering the set of commands (with some Easter-eggs, too) that the Chicken understood. For the site’s 5th anniversary Barbarian Group posted a fascinating history of the site, it’s development and public reaction.

In terms of response-time, the newer Old Spice project is much slower than the Subservient Chicken. But the Chicken was done in the days of Flash and browser-based experiences whereas Old Spice takes advantage of social networks and mobility. It sacrifices individual interaction for video production quality and sociability. It’s an interesting balance. So, what’s next?