Why Should Old Spice Get to Have All the Fun?

February 6th, 2011

Guest post by Clinton Bonner, President of NoSox Productions; a character based brand story-telling firm out of Westbrook, CT.

It was 2010…

The Toyota Sienna Family somehow made mini-vans cool and the Old Spice Guy literally rode-in on a white horse and into our social lives. The emergence of amazing character-based brand storytelling on the social web. But there is a major ‘scene missing’ from this truncated tale.

As Jay often says here on the blog, brands of all sizes need to be broadcasters of their own content. Many brands to their credit are doing it and doing it well. But there is an important aspect of this brand broadcasting missing, and it’s entertaining character-based videos.

So how can YOUR brand be as good as Toyota or Old Spice? Smart brands, regardless of their size and marketing budget, can be highly effective storytellers. It begins with leveraging memorable and authentic characters your audience can relate to and actually care about.

Meet Kan Jam

It was late August on Long Island and I was sipping a cold High-Life, playing Kan Jam, a yard game I’d never heard of. I instantly loved the game. I turned to my brother, who happens to be my screenwriting partner, and suggested we contact the makers and pitch them on a web-series based on characters we had created years ago.

Kan Jam said yes and had the gumption to roll the dice. Today, on Super Bowl Sunday, our trailer debuted on Kan Jam’s popular Facebook fan page.

Please enjoy the trailer: Hemp Stevens in: the Kan Jam Klassic

We began to think other small to medium-sized brands might want what we could deliver, so we launched NoSox Productions to bring character-based storytelling to companies. Here are the brand benefits of these types of projects:


Authentic brand story-telling is extraordinarily powerful. It’s truly something only humanized and relatable characters can deliver. Think about George Costanza (of Seinfeld) for a moment. We know he’s not “real” but I bet your memory of him is rather specific. When you can attain that level of authenticity, you have a powerful brand storyteller that won’t be forgotten.

Cross Brand Pollination

People watch what they find funny and entertaining. They also share that content. The character Hemp Stevens and his loyal cronies become a common thread woven between the fan bases of multiple brands. Older “fans” of Hemp will watch the newest videos while newer eyes quickly embrace the characters and seek out the existing library of content (as we gracefully market it to them as well). This brings a fan of one brand over to another and vice-versa and as a client or the Hemp Stevens “universe” gains in popularity, all parties involved benefit.

Lifespan of the Videos

Every single day somebody new sees a “Chad Vader” YouTube video or the new Go Granny parody from Network Solutions and they share the content. This will rarely happen with generic brand videos, but the chances of it being seen many weeks, months, and even years later go up exponentially when the video is tied to a character who is gaining popularity.

Genuine Silo Busting Goodness

While brands have started to create their own branded entertainment on the web, the vast majority do little partnership cross-marketing. 99.9% of the other companies in the world are NOT your competitor, therefore they can be your social ally. At NoSox we place products within other brand’s focused stories and bringing what were two, three or even four disparate social fan silos together to make a much larger collective audience.

Even on the soundtracks, we’ve had great luck reaching out to emerging rock bands who are all too happy to lend a track or two, knowing their tunes will then be heard by tens of thousands of people. And what does the rock band do? They of course share the videos with their growing audience, increasing the exposure for all parties. It’s important to note that these are always negotiated partnerships where all sides give it the thumbs up.

The Pitfalls

You can’t utilize the same cast of characters for every brand. We recognize this. You may not care for all of the content that is put out over time; you may not be willing to socially tie your brand to a spokesman who will be pitching a myriad of brands over the years; and you might not like the fact that Hemp Stevens and his gang have a social life of their own and will tweet, post and blog about “things”.

But we mitigate risk, we contractually avoid certain products, topics and language and we put out content Bill Cosby himself would enjoy while eating a pudding pop.

It’s an experiment and quite a social one. We’d love for you to join us.

Hemp Stevens on Facebook and Twitter where he mostly talks about Grilled Cheese and his unwavering love for Mrs. Garrett.

I imagine there will be some wildly different opinions about our approach and model. Would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section.

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