Evidence Soup
How to find, use, and explain evidence.

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Wednesday, 28 July 2010

More evidence about Old Spice: I stand corrected.

[Update: Marketing VOX offered an explanation of conflicting Old Spice sales figures. See the end of this post.]

Yesterday I wrote about growth in Old Spice body wash sales. My information came from Eliot Van Buskirk, writing on Wired's Epicenter. However, in my haste to post a quick writeup about it, I oversimplified the evidence.

It's the coupons, too. I'd intended to also mention the Old Spice coupon program, but neglected to do so. I received a note from Ashley Welde, who is the Director of Evidence-Based Communications at Burson-Marsteller in New York City, a firm I wrote about last year (thanks, Ashley, for keeping me on the right path -- and for doing it so gently). She wrote: "Regarding sales of Old Spice, there is controversy over whether the sales are coming from the great ads/You Tube videos or from couponing." Both Ashley and Eliot Van Buskirk referred to an Ad Age article and SymphonyIRI sales data.

Elusive evidence. Ad Age quoted P&G spokesman Mike Norton: "How much of Old Spice's recent gains... come from Mr. Mustafa's ads and how much from the coupons? It's impossible to know." Should Old Spice be measuring awareness, coupon redemption, market share, sales growth, or something else? I would certainly hope it's some of each. One would think people are more likely to clip and use a coupon if they've got more product awareness (in this case, thanks to really funny, memorable commercials and videos). But measuring all this in the real world is problematic.

Did you want evidence of top-line performance, or bottom line? Ashley Welde from Burson-Marsteller added: "I think it would be very interesting if it turns out that coupons are driving the sales, because couponing overall is becoming more and more effective, even though it’s such an old school marketing tactic. We’ll see what the evidence shows in the long run!" Though she pointed out that coupons can dampen financial results, quoting Ad Age: "Nor is it clear how much Old Spice's 106% gain will disappear from P&G's top line when coupon redemptions, which don't figure into scanner data but do come off the company's top line when financial results are reported next month, figure in."

Body Wash sales figures - SymphonyIRI

Hard evidence? Today's graphic isn't as fun as yesterday's, but it tells an interesting story, too. Obviously, how you measure makes a big difference. In this case, they said: "During the four weeks ending June 13, market research firm SymphonyIRI... found that sales of the product were 106 percent higher than during the same period last year." Ad Age, citing evidence from SymphonyIRI, said: "other men's brands also have been making substantial share gains of late, including P&G sibling Gillette and Beierdorf's Nivea. And the thing Old Spice, Gillette and Nivea have in common isn't Mr. Mustafa, but rather multiple national drops of high-value coupons.... reflecting unprecedented levels of promotional intensity in the category."

And still more evidence. Eduardo also commented on yesterday's Old Spice post, saying "Hmmm. Yahoo says the sales have *not* increased, and have in fact decreased: 'The problem: Sales are down a surprising seven percent. This situation is far from unique - mass attention does not always equal money in the bank....'"

Sigh. It's okay, Old Spice guy, we'll always have YouTube.

Update: From Marketing VOX (today): "New figures quantify the viral success of the Old Spice viral video campaign using the one metric that ultimately matters to marketers: sales.... Earlier numbers suggested the opposite: sales of "Red Zone After Hours Body Wash" - the specific Old Spice product the top spot promoted - fell by 7% in 2010, according to WARC figures. The first ad debuted at the Super Bowl in February. But those numbers were calculated before the campaign's latest push - its two day, 186-plus viral video extravaganza, in which the actor portraying the Old Spice Man, Isaiah Mustafa, took questions and responded to posts on Twitter, Facebook, Digg and Reddit. They were produced at roughly a rate of 7 minutes per video."

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