The utter brilliance of Old Spice's viral campaign

The deodorant company's hunky spokesman addresses Twitter users personally -- and the Internet goes wild

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published July 14, 2010 9:15PM (EDT)

Why can't everything be as wonderful as the new Old Spice campaign? What started with last winter's instantly classic "I'm on a horse" clip has continued to charm this summer as "the man your man could smell like," the devastatingly suave Isaiah Mustafa, has swan dived into our hearts. On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, Old Spice and its hilarious spokesdreamboat took the awesome to a whole new level -- by speaking directly to those fragrant fans.

Responding to questions and comments from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, Old Spice Man has spent the past two days "talking with the Internet" -- barraging us with his dispatches from the shower. And sweet Lord, we never want it to end.

The experiment has been pleasingly democratic in its nature, with the Old Spice Man proffering Alyssa Milano "fragrantly fragrant flowers and a handwritten note from my heart to your doorstep via my bare feet running over the California mountains," explaining to the geeks at Gizmodo that live wolverines, puffer fish and decommissioned hand grenades are the latest "body wash applying technology"  and pitying ordinary fan Veletret, whose husband's allergies mean she'll will never have "adult love times with your man at sixty thousand feet in a hot air balloon powered by your man breathing fire to keep it arise."  If you're doing anything right now other than watching these videos, you are wasting your day.

With a panache that few other marketing campaigns have pulled off, the Old Spice team has once again harnessed the great, you-cannot-miss-this power of social media, and done it in a way that feels fresh and personal and playful.  It's an exercise in understanding exactly what the Internet community wants: namely, a handsome shirtless man beating a pirate-shaped piñata with a petrified fish for the amusement of Demi Moore. If I had to put it in Old Spicese, I'd say watching Mustafa do his thing is like eating bacon while getting a foot massage in a field of flowers while looking good in a bathing suit. And for the creative team behind it, it must smell like sweet, sweet success.

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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