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Neil Patrick Harris in Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. The actor also appeared in one of the earlier Old Spice commercials.
Neil Patrick Harris in Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. The actor also appeared in one of the earlier Old Spice commercials.

Grow: Ryan Caligiuri

Measure results or throw marketing out the window Add to ...

Too often small and medium-sized businesses create marketing campaigns and get no feedback on how well they perform.

It’s one of the most wasteful processes in marketing.

Last month I was inspired by the Old Spice advertising campaign and I went into detail on the caveats of going viral: Can small businesses harness that Old Spice magic?

There is one more golden nugget to take away from the campaign, and it’s a lesson in measuring and testing.

Old Spice tests and timelines

From the very beginning, when Wieden and Kennedy won the Old Spice contract in 2007, you have to believe it was measuring and testing with focus groups through the entire campaign.

As we look at some of the advertisements we see the progression of how Wieden moved toward the ones with Isaiah Mustafa that we know so well. It’s a sure sign of testing, and a good demonstration of how measuring and making continuous improvements can create impact.

The first ad, which was released in 2007, featured Bruce Campbell in a monologue. Looking back, we get a feel for the approach it wanted to take right from the beginning – something quirky and humorous with a suave male figure to represent the brand.

By measuring this ad, Wieden would have a benchmark it could test new variables against. In this case, the one variable that changed was the male figure. Maybe he wasn’t young enough, perhaps he wasn’t cool enough to represent Old Spice. Enter Neil Patrick Harris. He is younger, better known and currently plays a suave character on the sitcom How I Met Your Mother.

Through measurement Wieden would be able to determine the effectiveness of this ad compared with the Bruce Campbell ad. It could see what works and what doesn’t, and continue to test new variables.

Following the ad with Mr. Harris it would have had a second source of data to examine and act on.

In 2009, the male figure changed again, but the humorous, quirky undertone of the ads remained. In addition to these two variables came the element of surprise.

They really started to unleash their creative side with this version by constantly changing the focus of the ad to keep viewers guessing. Was it a vast improvement? The only way to know for sure would be to measure it.

The element of surprise was likely a hit with viewers so Wieden made it a major focus moving forward. It continued with the humorous undertone but yet again replaced the male figure, this time with two representatives – Isaiah Mustafa and Terry Crews.

The ads were clearly a success in the marketplace and garnered huge attention that would make any brand envious – once you get past the cost. But Wieden could not have made it to this stage if it did not measure responses to each ad and test different variables with each new release.

It understood the principle that maximum performance from a marketing investment requires measuring results and testing new variables.

Great marketing is not guesswork

Whether you measure and test the subject line of an e-mail campaign, the headline in an advertisement, the copy in a marketing brochure or the banner at a trade show, measuring and testing can mean a lot to your bottom line.

Conjecture will never grow your company. Measuring and testing will. This is the final lesson for marketers from Old Spice.

Special to the Globe and Mail

Ryan Caligiuri is a Winnipeg-based marketing specialist who believes many organizations are wasting their money on ineffective marketing tactics, many professionals and students feel lost because their actions don’t translate into positive results, and all three groups are too comfortable blending in and following the status quo. He is driven by the desire to refocus their efforts on what needs to be done to resurrect the impact of marketing.

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Follow on Twitter: @RyanCaligiuri

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