Hello, marketers. Look at your ad. Now back at me. Now back at your ad. Now back to me.

Sadly, your ad didn’t sell anything. But if it stopped trying to be comedy and remembered that ads were supposed to sell stuff, it could act like me.

Look down. Back up. Where are we? We’re talking about sell-through, that illusive commercial transaction where people, inspired by your advertising and marketing in general walk into retail stores and buy the thing that was so cleverly positioned in your award winning campaign.

What’s in your hand? Back at me. It’s the retainer agreement you have with that very hip agency that laughingly told you not to worry about whether the ad would “work” – whatever that means – and reminded you of the last time you fell in that fountain in the south of France during that lost awards week.

Look again. The retainer agreement is now being waved angrily in your face by your CEO, who sadly isn’t like the agency people who said there was nothing to worry about. Whatever is slipping through his fingers isn’t diamonds either. It could just be his own tears. Or your promotion.

Anything is possible when your campaign sells stuff like crazy. Because if it doesn’t, you’ll smell like a horse.

[Cut to facts]

Unless Walmart’s sales are skyrocketing in a trend that defies all the other channels in the US, the Old Spice spot – which admittedly is great theater – apparently didn’t do the job:

“For instance, it was none other than P&G that picked up the Film Grand Prix this year for Old Spice’s ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’ TV spot from Wieden + Kennedy. There is little doubt about the viral hit’s popularity. Launched in February, the official version has racked up nearly 12.2 million YouTube views. But sales of the featured product—Red Zone After Hours Body Wash—aren’t necessarily tracking with that consumer appeal: In the 52 weeks ended June 13, sales of the brand have dropped 7 percent according to SymphonyIRI. (That amount excludes those rung up at Walmart.) P&G execs were not available to comment.” This, from Brandweek.

The viral hit didn’t sell anything? How can this be? It was viewed 12.2 million times on YouTube! Everyone talks about it. Even my son tells me, “Dad, I finished my homework, got ‘Most Improved Camper of the Week,’ and watched my brother while mom was in the garden. I’m on a horse.”

Viral is lovely. Viral is fun. If viral stimulates sell-through, it’s even successful. But if it doesn’t do this last bit, it’s a failure.

IRI reports that sales were down 7% according the IRI scanner data they collect. And who knows. Maybe Walmart made up a significant difference here and the overall campaign overcame the rest of the market 7% dip. It could happen.

“Is Old Spice making the age-old advertising mistake of confusing making consumers laugh at your brand with engaging consumers with your brand?”

This, from Brandchannel. Possibly. Or it could simply be the case of theater taking the place of advertising. Again.

I wrote about this a few months ago, comparing Apple’s ‘Think Different’ to Go Daddy’s last Super Bowl spot and asked the rhetorical question, “Which campaign creative would you rather walk into the boardroom with?”

If you’re like most, you’d breathlessly say Apple. Hearing from Sergio Zyman that this storied campaign was followed by three straight quarters of declining market share dampened many people’s ardor for this.

Go Daddy, on the other hand, runs ads described by many as “the lowest of the low.” And when I spoke to CEO and Founder Bob Parsons about this, he told me that every year, they hit new sales records.

“Which campaign results would you rather walk into the boardroom with now?” If you’re like most, you’d pick Go Daddy. For good reason.

Now, the next time someone tells you that Nike has “won” the battle for the World Cup with their “Write the Future” three minute spot – again, beautiful theater – ask them, “Hey, did Nike sell anything?” I’ve asked Nike. No response yet. I’ll keep you posted.