Jonah Berger’s 6 STEPPS applied to Advertising

Hi readers! Have you seen this commercial?

Look down…

…now back to me!  I love it!

This commercial created by W&K was launched in 2010, and despite some initial scepticism, it has proven to be one of the brand’s most successful campaigns of all time. As described in Adweek , it boosted the brand’s sales in 107%, was viewed 40 million times in one week and increased the brand’s social media performance on Twitter (2700% community growth), Facebook (800% followers interaction), and YouTube (Most viewed brand channel back then… now it’s LEGO).

But what determined its success?

There are many theoretical frameworks that explain why an idea spreads. I particularly like Jonah Berger’s 6 STEPPS for contagious content creation, and here’s how it can be applied to advertising:

Social Currency: ‘People care about how they look to others’ J Berger

When this commercial was launched, it gained a lot of attention in a short period of time. People were watching it, sharing it, commenting about it. Create advertisements that become a trend and that your audience feels cool if they know about it. More importantly, make your audience want to talk about it.

Triggers: ‘Top-of-mind means tip-of-tongue’ J Berger

Adding content that is easy to remember will place you in the top-of-mind of your audience. Try a message that your audience would like to repeat. A sticky script like this one? Or perhaps a song: think about that TV ad with the unforgettable jingle…

(*Colombians sing: ‘La Fina… la margarina..’)

Emotion: ‘When we care, we share’ J Berger.

…when we share, it becomes contagious. Aim for your audience’s emotional connection with your advertisement, and it will get shared. Old Spice, for instance, merged sex-appeal with humour, both very strong emotions. Berger recommends to place emotions before function.

Public: ‘Built to show, built to grow’ J Berger

Create ads that people will want to imitate. Berger also describes public as having a ‘visible residual behaviour’. After The man your man could smell like, talented actor Isaiah Mustafa was featured in talk shows and interviews explaining the production of the commercial. Other actions also included people sharing their own parodies and versions as well.


Practical Value: ‘News you can use’ J Berger

I liked Kara Trivunovic’s explanation for this stepp better in his approach for successful Email Marketing. He describes that content should be relevant for you to share it. Previous demographic studies developed by Old Spice demostrated that women were the largest buyers of the brand, and that young divorced men trying to feel attractive again were also significant consumers. Very related to the Emotion stepp, this advertisement was targetting both men and women with its message and the actor portrayed. They were showing themselves relevant to the audience they wanted to engage.

Stories: ‘Information travels under what seems like iddle chatter’

Make your ad tell the story of your brand. Old Spice has always described itself as helping men smell like men and likes to include humour in their content. However, my favourite story about this ad, and perhaps what made me want to share it with you in the first place, was its clever production process. If you take a close look, you’ll see that it was shot in one take! The scenography moves! The actor memorised the lines, repeated the take around 80 times, until the final result.

Here’s the making of:


With such an audience engagement and full-on production, was it Advertising or Entertainment?

I’m on a horse.



6 comentarios sobre “Jonah Berger’s 6 STEPPS applied to Advertising

  1. Hi Ana,
    I loved reading your blog and how you’ve explained it with the Old Spice Ad. It is very creative to see Jonah Berger’s 6 steps coming into action.

    I would further like to talk about social currency as that is the topic that I have also bogged about. I find it very amusing to see what were the intentions that the word was coined for and how gradually it has changed its meaning. The most prominent impacts of social currency on brands, companies, industry and consumers.

    This word was used to describe a person, company’s or brands social presence on social networks, but now more and more it is being used as a PR technique where individuals, public figures, celebrities are using the social platform to talk about themselves and making them look good.

    Le gusta a 1 persona

    1. Glad that you liked it Eshi!! I just came from reading your blog (loved it btw!) and I’m not sure if I got what social currency meant right anymore. Because in the ad of Old Spice, I was trying to explain why the AUDIENCE would want to share this in their feed, based on the fact that it was a cool ad, trendy, everyone was talking about it, and it that would make them look good.

      But from the side of the BRAND how can this relate to social currency? Is it because it is making the brand look creative, reinvented, with a cool sticky speech, exclusive in a way…?

      As a social currency guru, Eshi, what do you reckon? 🙂

      Me gusta

  2. Hi Ana!!

    Loved your post, as you already know I’m also Colombian and of course, I do recall immediately “La Fina” song, and we all sing it while reading!! but did you notice that other brands that used to have the same effect with their jingles change it? like “Harina de trigo haz de oro…” (you will sing the rest) or, “Faltan 15 minutos, 15 minutos Vin Vin Viniltex de Pintuco…” (once again I know you know and sang the rest) for me it was a really bad call from the marketing team!! and about old spice, its really good that they do it on one shot!!!

    Willing to read again from you!!


    Le gusta a 1 persona

    1. Thanks for your comment.

      I know…. I personally like jingles because I hits my emotions and reminds me of childhood moments. The decline of jingles, however, obeys to brands trying to target a younger audience. If you come to think about it, advertisements targeting an older audience still use jingles. In the era of convergence, those targetting young people prefer to use commercial pop-songs instead of the ‘old-fashioned’ jingles.

      Analyising the history of advertising can be really cool, it helps you understand how the trends evolve with time, leading to changes in the way we do marketing. 🙂

      Me gusta

  3. Thanks for breaking down these 6 steps for advertising. I remember the first time I saw that Old Spice commercial. Was instantly a hit in my eyes and was very memorable. A little tasteful humor goes a long way when it comes to marketing. It’s true, imitation is the best form of flattery. I remember when Sesame Street even made a parody of this commercial.

    Le gusta a 1 persona

    1. Thanks for your comment! I loved Sesame’s street example. It is both cute and didactic. As I mentioned in the blog emotions are very good at making things viral. Humour and positive emotions are the easy way to go. However, advertisements that rely on negative emotions like tension, disgust, and those that make you nervous tend to also have a high impact in the audience.

      Me gusta


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