The Number's Up.
This is not another post about The Old Spice campaign. But it is inspired by the seemingly ubiquitous innumeracy that has spun out of it. Specifically, there is a Nielsen figure being quoted that sales have risen by 107% in the last month. Think about that. Sales have doubled in a month. That would be extraordinary. If it were true.
But while I haven't fully confirmed it, I don't think it is true. What is much more likely to be true is that sales for the past month are 107% higher than for the equivalent month last year. That's also impressive though maybe less so if, as I pointed out in my Cadbury post, it's an increase from a deflated level. Saliently, the fact is that nobody involved with the company or the campaign has even made that claim. They know that they're playing a long game. The blogosphere, however, is less restrained and the virality of online information means that the seemingly false interpretation has spread like wildfire.
Regardless of the previous years of the repositioning and the fact that those videos were only created two weeks ago, the received wisdom will be that the combination of online video and social media doubles sales in a month. Everybody will be switching their budgets into an Old Spice style digital extravaganza because they think something has been proven.
It will take time to determine the undeniable effectiveness of the campaign and its various elements on actual sales, but it shouldn't take time for marketers to understand what basic numbers actually mean.