If you were browsing YouTube yesterday, you probably noticed some lag. You might have even noticed some scary-looking (and Google-branded) 503 errors like I did. Well, YouTube has officially acknowledged the issue and says they're working on it. They didn't say what it was, of course, but they did rule out one suspected reason: Old Spice Man. Here's an actual quote from their spokesman:
"Although there's been speculation that the Old Spice Guy's 'manliness' is affecting our servers resulting in a slower service for some YouTube users, our engineers have discovered another issue," he said. "We're working hard to address it and should have the site back to normal shortly."
Most of you have no doubt noticed the PR coup by Old Spice this week, as the star of their recent commercials, Old Spice Guy, began responding directly to fans and media members via Twitter, YouTube, and more.
For instance, he made this video for Celebrity Gossip blogger Perez Hilton:
And this one for Kevin Rose, of Digg:
But he also engaged the Reddit community directly, going so far as to respond directly in the comments on that site, even uploading photos and recording personalized voicemail messages to prove he was legit. He even granted a request to propose marriage to a woman on behalf of her boyfriend:
The campaign is over now, and the direct messages have stopped. But their impact will last for quite some time. No one has ever done anything quite like this, at least not on this scale. And despite the obvious marketing motive, the boldness and humor of the initiative has won over virtually the whole dang Internet.
Here is Old Spice Man's final message, fittingly addressed to "everyone”:
This is the future of marketing your business online. I hope we can all see that. It's not just creating a website. It's not just uploading hilarious videos of you on a horse. It's not just creating a Facebook page and sending out friend requests. It's jumping in with both feet and fully embracing and engaging multiple social media tools to connect with fans.
Of course, the immediate future will consist of a thousand cheap rip-offs of this idea. But I'd like to submit that the most ingenious thing about this Old Spice campaign is that they did something no one had ever done before. It wasn't the specific steps of recording personalized videos and messages or posting images… those were just pieces of the whole. The real "secret sauce" was how many miles outside the box they were in their thinking. The originality, not the actual blueprint, is what made this a success. The next company that comes along and creates personalized videos for media members and voicemail greetings and proposal messages for regular users will be a copycat… a mimic. There may be some juice to it for the first few rip-offs, but that will quickly die off.
YouTube and Facebook and Twitter are just tools. You still have to build something unique with them. Because if you just use them to build what everyone before you has built, you'll be ignored. But if you get all Frank Lloyd Wright with those tools, and build yourself a marketing version of Falling Water, then you're going to find yourself receiving praise for pulling off the latest Internet marketing coup.
Still no idea what's been slowing down YouTube, though. But I'm hoping they have it resolved before the launch of whatever Old Spice has planned next.