Unless you're living under a rock, you know about  P&G’s success this week in turning its popular Old Spice Guy commercial into a true social media success story. There's a lot to be learned from this program about social media, but I think it says more about marketing than about social media. Leave it to a 71-year-old brand to show us how to do 21st century marketing!

Lesson One: Paid And Earned Integration:  As my friend and Forrester peer Sean Corcoran says, "no media stands alone."  Old Spice’s social media success started with what some think of being an old and tired medium — television.  But TV isn’t going anywhere and paid media is no less relevant in the social media era than it was in the mass media era. As the Old Spice program shows, the key to making paid media work — really work — is to focus on how to make it more social.  

Lesson Two: Adaptive Marketing:  Today’s best marketing is adaptive marketing.  To quote another friend and former Forrester peer, Lisa Bradner, “Today's brand marketing organizations are ill equipped to handle the world of ‘always on’ marketing in the digital age. To remain relevant, marketing leaders will embrace Adaptive Brand Marketing.”  The Old Spice social program wasn’t an idea that was part of a one-year campaign planning process but instead was envisioned and executed in rapid fashion to respond to the success of the Old Spice character and commercials. 

Lesson Three: Control:  The final lesson from this successful program is the value of giving up some control.  This program couldn’t have happened had Procter & Gamble not ceded control to consumers and to a smart team of marketing professionals.  A typical ad takes months to plan and execute — the content is carefully created, production values are high, and many edits are required prior to the campaign launch as different executives and committees weigh in.  Compare that to the way this Old Spice campaign worked.  Consumers were asked for their input, then a team of social media pros, marketers, writers, videographers, and (of course) actor Isaiah Mustafa were sequestered to produce more than 150 different video responses over the course of two days. 

The response has been terrific.  Social networks are buzzing, resharing has been very high, and the Old Spice YouTube channel now has 75 million total upload views.  And this effort shows evidence of going even more viral — among the people to whom Isaiah Mustafa responded was Alyssa Milano, and she’s now uploaded her own video challenging Mustafa to make a $100,000 donation to support restoration in the Gulf. 

Old Spice has demonstrated that social media works, but what this program really makes clear is just how much marketing is changing.