Showing posts with label PG. Show all posts
Showing posts with label PG. Show all posts

Thursday, July 15

Getting Swaggered: Old Spice And Minivans?

If social media buzz ruled the world, we'd all smell like Old Spice and drive minivans. And, without the benefit of the YouTube videos to back up the imagery of what we're supposed to relate to, it's a very frightening thought.

Thank goodness some people are interested in seeing sales numbers before adopting the practice of flash-in-the-pan spots where companies poke fun at themselves. But do ads that draw more attention to themselves than the product really draw in customers?

The Toyota Minivan Rap.

The first time I really gave the minivan rap half a thought was after Driven Media mentioned its marketing blog. I'm always interested in new marketing blogs, but was surprised to find some praise for the Toyota Minivan Rap, which has been shared everywhere for approximately 4.5 million views.

Sure, it's almost funny, creative, and pokes fun at the embattled Toyota company. But why did it really receive attention? It was the first attempt at a campaign since the recall crisis. At least one media outlet asked if it was racist (I don't see how). And even the talent and agency attracted some attention. But what about the minivan?

The irony? There really isn't a minivan market anymore. Last year, minivan sales plunged to 415,000, partly due to the fact that most minivans get an estimated 19 miles per gallon.

Another irony? For all the sharing, I wonder how people would feel if they knew a consumer offered up one rap one year earlier? Still, as they say in Japan, all is forgotten in 70 days.

The Old Spice Man Spontaneity.

Even more viral than the minivan rap is the Old Spice guy. Much like a drunken party, everyone is piling on to say how brilliant the creative is without fear of a hangover. I won't question that. It's funny stuff, much funnier than the minivan video. I love reading about how they made it.

There is no question the video series is a temporary social media success story. Here are some stats, driven by the unpredictability of it all.

On the flip side, some people are questioning the product smell. That question really helps pinpoint what needs to be asked.

While the campaign might convince people to give Old Spice a try (maybe), what happens after that? It all depends on the product. But more importantly, even if changes to the product will help push it along, can the Old Spice success be attributed to social media?

NO. If people read business magazines more than they watch YouTube videos, they would already know Old Spice had inched by Right Guard to become the nation's leading deodorant and antiperspirant for men. So, this might not be a social media success story at all.

This is a long-term rebranding effort that started a long time ago, with the opening image above a part of it all. So, the social media series is just another step. And knowing this might prompt other questions all together. Does the social media series run counter to the investment that gave Old Spice a base to connect with on YouTube? It's hard to say, but there is one last irony.

One of the Old Spice products also includes a "Swagger" strip as part of the product positioning. So maybe the initial idea that minivan owners are Old Spice customers isn't far off after all. The only thing weird about that is that Tony Stewart doesn't drive one of those around the track.

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Thursday, May 6

Saving Wildlife: Dawn Responds To Oil Spill Crisis

Although Procter & Gamble (P&G) has a Web site dedicated to the cause, it doesn't employ much push public relations to draw attention to its role in saving wildlife. Other people do it for them.

Brenda Swindle, a stylist at Hair Impressions salon in Alabama, is one of them. Bobbie Lowe, a patron at Harvey's Supermarkets in Georgia, is another. It was top of mind for rescuers from Delaware too.

Dawn Dish Soap Saves Wildlife.

The sudden surge of attention didn't start with a press release. It started with casual mentions by people who know. For 30 years, wildlife rescuers have used Dawn dishwashing liquid to gently remove oil and help save wildlife affected by oil spills.

It wasn't until the media began to draw upon Dawn dish soap as an example of how people can help that P&G responded. Since, it has communicated its increasing role as part of the solution in an oil spill that could eclipse the Exxon Valdez disaster. Since, the company has released news that it is stepping up production, clarified its efforts to raise money for conservation projects targeted at cleaning wildlife hurt by oil spills since last July, and how the company donates Dawn dish soap to the Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC), Marine Mammal Center, and other rehabilitation organizations.

In addition to its own fundraising efforts, P&G is asking fans of its program to make direct donations to the IBRRC and Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research center. They also direct would-be volunteers to contact the Unified Command Volunteer Request line at 1-866-448-5816 via its dedicated Dawn Save Wildlife Facebook page.

The description introducing the page says it all. "An Everyday Wildlife Champion views saving wildlife as an everyday thing."

You can find additional information about the company's efforts on its Dawn Save Wildlife Web site. Currently, the company has raised $385,091 of its $500,000 goal. The site also supports an interactive map, which identifies which states have contributed the most.

The $500,000 goal is in addition to all other fundraising efforts and direct support. The company has said it is just as happy (if not more than happy) for people to make direct donations.

What Public Relations Professionals Can Learn.

It is a good lesson for public relations practitioners. Sometimes the best public relations efforts are not what you can draw attention to or capitalize on, but rather a long-term investment of doing good and then being caught doing it.

In this case, Procter & Gamble demonstrates a perfect balance between being responsive to the attention without attention seeking as many companies did during the Haitian earthquake. The results speak for themselves. The effort is closely aligned to a product benefit and the company demonstrates what it means to be a good corporate citizen for others to emulate.

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Tuesday, May 4

Playing On Periods: Right Message, Wrong Colors

Two years ago, Procter & Gamble (P&G) drew some minor fire for bringing the "Have A Happy Period" to life in 2005. While many women felt put off by the promise of playful bliss from Always, one letter captured the spirit and set the spark of some push back surrounding the campaign.

"What I mean is, does any part of your tiny middle-manager brain really think happiness — actual smiling, laughing happiness — is possible during a menstrual period?" — Wendi Aarons

Never mind that Snopes discovered the letter was never sent to P&G. It resonated for awhile, just not enough for P&G to pull the campaign. They have worked harder to explain the thinking. The Web site clarifies the idea: "Have a happy period? It can't get any worse." Or can it?

The Daily Blonde thinks so. The new ads for colorfully compact Kotex shouts "Oooh! It comes in my color!” as it introduces feminine products that come in yellow, pink, blue, and green. (Hat tip: Krystal Hosmer.)

"I never match my bag and shoes anyway, so there’s not a chance I’m going to coordinate my tampon with ANYTHING." — Cheryl Phillips, The Daily Blonde

So what gives? In 2005, P&G set on a course to turn the period frown upside down. The idea (as Kevin Crociata, brand manager for Always put it) was to aim at "having a little fun with (a period) rather than dreading it so much."

Don't worry. It wasn't just his idea. Patti Gregoline, then senior vice president and executive creative director for Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett worked on the campaign too. Gregoline, however, didn't work on the color-coordinated line. I'm only mentioning the original campaign to give people a sense of where this all started. (The new ads are by Organic and JWT.)

P&G does understand the issues, as evidenced by an advertisement that makes fun of its past attempts to woo customers.

Unfortunately, for all the sense that the advertisement makes, the product line doesn't make much sense. Well, maybe it does, for what P&G says amounts to 85 percent of women who are embarrassed to be seen with a feminine product.

Basically, the idea is that if it falls out of their purse, they'll feel more comfortable about it because it's a different color.

P&G is close to having it right. The thrust of the Kotex campaign is to stop all the weirdness about periods. I'm all for that. And yet, if there is an irony, the product colors and non-descript cases actually cater to the opposite concept.

There are better options to get over the weirdness. Vinnie once had the corner on cases despite the media's unwillingness to allow him to advertise. And then came the vintage collection. And then the mini-purses.

Sure, I'm hardly an expert. But I've never been afraid to talk or listen to people's take on just about anything. And from what I'm hearing from women, Kotex is thisclose to making the topic less embarrassing, but this far from delivering the right product/campaign combination. Until they do, they'll have a hard time gaining full support for their social media outreach efforts.

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Tuesday, August 25

Rivaling Television: The Internet

comScore, Inc. and dunnhumby released a study that may make some local television station executives lose sleep. The study, which delves into the effectiveness of online advertising in building retail sales, reveals that Internet advertising is as effective as television advertising.

One study demonstrated that over the course of 12 weeks, online ad campaigns with an average reach of 40 percent of their target segment successfully grew retail sales of the advertised brands by an average of 9 percent in three months. Television accounted for an 8 percent lift over 12 months.

In fact, according to the study, 80 percent of Internet campaigns showed a significant statistical lift in sales whereas television showed a 36 percent lift in sales. In the study, which included more than 200,000 people and campaigns that featured cereal, cookie mixes, pizza, juice drinks, snack bars, pasta, tea, deodorants, and toothpaste, the Internet seems to have come of age among big brand marketers.

"The study results represent very encouraging news for CPG marketers online and offline because the data confirms the ability of online marketing to drive results offline at the shelf level," said Bill Pearce, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Del Monte Foods. "These are precisely the types of persuasive studies we are looking for at Del Monte as digital plays an increasing role in our marketing strategy."

Studies such as these, many of which are never released, are driving dozens of companies to explore Internet advertising and social media programs. Just one of a hundred of new examples we're tracking includes Procter & Gamble's Pampers brand, which is experimenting with digital media by creating its own version of a reality show.

The show, A Parent Is Born, will chronicle the birth of parents via a 12-part Web series that focuses on various aspects of the parenting journey, from "Finding Out the Sex" to "My Big, Fat, Beautiful Body." The Webisodes will run on, YouTube and DirecTV On Demand, and TLC will also promote the show. MommyCast, a weekly radio/podcast series, will interview the Barstons on what life is like after son Leo is born.

Gian Fulgoni, comScore chairman and co-founder, will be sharing more about the series of studies at the Digital Age conference on Aug. 27 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He is scheduled to share in-depth insight into how online advertising really works, presenting the results of research into click-through rates as well as the importance of online advertising in raising brand awareness and ROI.

Tuesday, November 18

Bucking The Conversation: Ted McConnell

"I have a reaction to that as a consumer advocate and an advertiser. What in heaven's name made you think you could monetize the real estate in which somebody is breaking up with their girlfriend?" — Ted McConnell

That's right. McConnell, general manager-interactive marketing and innovation at Procter & Gamble Co., is bucking the social media conversation, especially as it pertains to social networks like Facebook. According to AdAge, he doesn't want to invest in advertising dollars where people are trying to talk to someone, saying "we hijack their conversations, their own thoughts and feelings, and try to monetize it.”

He's mostly right. Companies that push and prod their way into personal spaces can be annoying (it became the death knell for AOL chat for those who remember), especially when the intent is to overtly or covertly steal them away to see a sales pitch.

Most don't mind the overt promoters so much (as long as they can be unfollowed on Twitter or assigned to junk mail). It's the covert operations, shrouded in idealism, that makes some people wonder.

Where McConnell might be right.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to read between the lines. More than one social media expert has caused a raised eyebrow after offering up a few runaway comments and quips.

"The critics don't pay my bills."

"By elevating my personal brand, more people will read my blog when I write about my client."

"I engage them in conversations with the hope they click on my signature, which takes them to my client."

"They probably won’t answer you, but that’s okay. All you want to do is appear like you have a relationship with them to enhance your credibility."

Keep in mind, these are the same folks who claim it's not about the money. They generally promote authenticity and transparency, state that their purpose is to shape social media for no other intent than to move their industry forward, and encourage that everyone should engage in social media just like they do.

Yet, if you read between the lines, you learn that the only reason critics (not trolls, mind you) are shunned is because they might hurt the bottom line. Whereas critical review tends to be more welcome in academics because the pursuit is about truth and knowledge over personal brand.

Or, you might learn some public relations professionals are pushing press releases as posts. Or, that online conversationalists really want you to buy a duck. Or, that someone's popularity was contrived from the very start.

This isn't the only area where McConnell may be right. He seems to be right that the infinitely thin targeting is creepy; limitless inventory will dampen publisher profits (until value finally beats reach, assuming it ever does); and that just because it moves, doesn't mean you have to monetize it. Don't misunderstand him. For all the criticisms, Procter & Gamble won't leave Facebook all together, because he does see value in social media. He just seems to see that the value is being applied to the wrong places.

Where McConnell might be wrong.

For all his good points, McConnell questions whether social media is media. Yet, it is a medium, even if it is different from other mediums.

Where he seems most mistaken is that it's not the participation that makes it media as much as it is the platform where that participation occurs. You also can't discount that tremendous number of voyeurs who treat the participation of others as their preferred consumption. And, in order to support these public platforms, someone has to make a nickel sooner or later (people generally accept this, especially when they have the choice of ad supported or premium ad-free services).

Besides, we've monetized almost everything anyway. Take a walk outside sometime and you can see it. People break up under billboards that line our horizon all the time. However, other than that small discrepancy, McConnell seems to touch on a subject that needs to be touched on. You see, while people might break up under billboards, those billboards don't generally shout down that they can help.

Online, they certainly seem to, especially when a marriage counselor, divorce attorney, fashion consultant, and dating service all become part of the break-up conversation between two people. Is that what people really want? I dunno. Maybe. Maybe not.


Tuesday, November 6

Gaining Ground: Consumer Relationships

It’s about time. According to Jonah Bloom’s article in AdvertisingAge, marketers are moving away from numbers and toward measuring changes in consumer attitudes and behaviors.

I’m not sure the solutions that the article alludes to are the right ones, but the premise — as the media landscape changes so is advertising — is spot on. Marketers and advertisers are beginning to consider media reach as less important than the platform's relationship to the audience.

Effective communication is about changing behavior.

Now that more are adopting the concept, one question remains: do they know how to do it? Procter & Gamble (P&G) seems to.

"Historically at P&G we looked at product performance. We didn't pay as much attention to product experience," Claudia Kotchka, vice president of design innovation and strategy at P&G, told ADWEEK, discussing how Gain Joyful Expressions’ curvy shapes and bright colors played a factor in it becoming a billion-dollar brand. "Obviously the product cleans fabulously, but this is all about joy. When consumers open the bottle, they like the smell. The bottle itself is much more whimsical. It's about taking the elements people wouldn't think are important and having them add up to the overall brand experience."

Product design is not the only place P&G is working hard to win over consumers. P&G recently rolled out an online campaign within Facebook to tout odor-eliminating Febreze to college students. You can access the group at (Talk about changing behavior. I wish it were around when, as a resident advisor, I had to counsel a young freshman why his unsanitary habits were driving roommates away.)

Of course, few things are wrinkle free; online consumer relationships included. Specifically, online consumers have noted that new custom advertising is kind of creepy. In fact, it took Facebook and MySpace proposed ad platforms to open their eyes to just how much online tracking there really is. Enough so that Facebook’s idea to target consumers based on what is in their online profiles has caught the attention of online privacy advocates and the Federal Trade Commission.

In other words, any backlash from overzealous consumer profiling could land squarely on Facebook. We mentioned that potential hazard when Harris Interactive released preliminary information about mobile advertising back in April. During the Webinar, Harris had cautioned advertisers not move too fast without opt-in and opt-out features or consumers and privacy advocates might push back.

It looks like some are pushing. In fact, some are pushing so hard that BusinessWeek noted how a "do not track" list could backfire because it could mean even more advertising, not less.


Wednesday, September 12

Spotting Convergence: Procter & Gamble

When I began writing that company-driven digital media was an emerging trend to watch with tangible income marketing potential, some people weren’t too keen on the idea.

Two days ago, Brian Steinberg with Advertising Age reported that Procter & Gamble (P&G) is in the early stages of producing a pilot focused on sketch comedy and the travails of the comics who devise it, which it hopes can become a primetime reality series for broadcast or cable. While this doesn’t connect all the dots between Internet-based digital media programming and traditional broadcast television, it does raise interesting questions around the concept well beyond the Cavemen.

"If it's not entertaining, then it's not going to engage, and if it doesn't, then it's a failure," said Peter Tortorici, president of WPP Group's Group M Entertainment. "Consumers aren't looking to be entertained by brands. They are looking to be entertained by characters and stories."

Tortorici is right. Under the existing model, advertisers rely on networks to develop and nurture entertaining shows to capture an audience. Then, assuming the measures are right, they buy time around those shows. However, most people agree that the old model is broken.

"The market is so fragmented, and because you have DVRs out there, we know that people are fast-forwarding through the commercials,” contributed Pat Gentile, head of P&G Productions, to the article. “If you can create something that is interesting and that resonates with the consumer, for Procter & Gamble, that's a pretty big deal."

It is a very big deal. P&G is among the biggest spenders on network television despite steadily shifting away from television advertising since 2005. Considering P&G currently commands an advertising budget of $6.7 billion, producing its own pilot it seems like a modest investment.

Some might say it’s almost a necessity. Even Fortune’s Geoff Colvin framed up his question to P&G’s James Stengel this way: Fortune’s Geoff Colvin: “Now that mass media is losing its dominance, what's the new model?”

“It's about understanding these consumers in a complete way. Our research has changed a lot. We do much more immersion research, much more anthropological research. We really try to get at what we can do through our brands to make a difference in people's lives,” Stengel said.

Although P&G is developing a pilot for broadcast or cable this time, we would not be surprised to see even more immersive experimentation in digital media, which provides better tracking through analytics and an ability to nurture niche markets. (We can think of hundreds of programs that P&G could develop to engage audiences on the Internet.) As Steinberg pointed out in his well-written article, P&G already has precedents.

Hmmm … suddenly, company-produced programs doesn’t seem so silly anymore. And while I am not suggesting that company-produced programming will or should completely replace broadcast penetration, it does make a lot of sense to consider programming as a viable part of the marketing mix.


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