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Should advertising be accountable for total sales?

B-oldspice No.

Media, creative, planning, research, strategy, retail agreements, shelf placement, pricing, packaging, customer service, brand health, not mention product... there are too many variables to hold any one agency fully responsible for the net number that is total sales.

But when business is bad, those in power look elsewhere for solutions.

OLD SPICE - What went wrong?

After a week of praise, Old Spice's recent campaign began drawing criticism for a 7% sales decline.  Punditry opinions ranged from advertising doesn't work through too funny to sell

While a 7% sales decline isn't great, let's put this in context: 

  • The 7% decline was over a period of 52 weeks.  This campaign went live in February.  Can the creative agency be held responsible for the full 52 weeks of decline?  Do we have context around how sales shifted with this new brand campaign?  Do we have data around category decline or trends?
  • Can the creative agency be held responsible for poor sales? 
  • Do we have enough data as outsiders to pass judgment?

Wieden + Kennedy did some great work here.  They pushed the boundaries, got us talking and elevated the brand overall.  They drove the upper funnel.  As a branding agency, they seem to have done a pretty good job building the brand. 

Update:  BL Ochman raises a great point around continuity.  While this campaign featured their YouTube Channel, Facebook page and Twitter, a strong measure of their long term success will come from their ability to leverage the CRM opportunities nested in these channels.  Then again, there's nothing wrong with a really great, old fashioned campaign that is fun for fun's sake. Campaigns may not be optimal, but in a world of short product life cycles, they aren't always quite wrong.

What this a failure?

We cannot call this campaign a failure because ww simply do not have enough information.  To pass judgment on the entire industry based on this one data point (as many in social have been quick to do) is simply foolish.

Nevertheless, declining sales has never helped an agency keep a client.

The Best Stats of All

PR Week is reporting a 107% boost in sales over the past month.  Forbes is reporting a 16.7% increase across key retail distributors. 

Now what does this say about us?