Who the Heck is P&G?

For about 150 years, the name P&G was in the far background, nowhere to be seen. The only people who knew the name P&G were business people, new business school grads and retail buyers. Consumers never knew that a lot of the brands they loved and used every day–Tide, Crest, Pampers, Downy–all came from the same company. P&G definitely used the House of Brands to the best of their abilities. And yet, in the lasts two years, we are seeing a shift to a hybrid approach between the House of Brands and the Branded House. Both P&G and Unilever have begun ending each TV ad with a little sign off from the corporate brand name. Part of the rational for P&G is they believe that having the corporate brand name will help the weaker brands in the portfolio, giving consumers some added re-assurance that the brand comes from the same great company that makes so many of their favourites. The issue with that logic is won’t the very healthy brands be held back, having two brand names at the end of ads? It might be especially true for a brand like Gillette where it’s already very healthy and seen as its own company. If I was in charge of the Gillette brand, I might be asking “does this make sense?”

For the last few decades of the 20th century, P&G advertising was relying so heavily on the side-by-side demonstrations that all the ads started to all look the same whether it was Tide, Downy, Mr Clean or Crest. Extremely non-emotional.

I hope everyone understands that for a guy like me, who believes that creating love for your brand makes your brand more powerful and in turn more valuable that it would make sense that while I have always respected P&G, I just have never really loved or admired them. I was more of a fan of Unilever work, especially Dove’s “real beauty” campaign. Then all of a sudden, the light went on with the Pampers “Forever Young” TV ad. At first, I was stunned it was a P&G commercial. Hats off to whoever got it approved.

Then I started to notice more and more attempts by P&G to get emotional in their work. Even the emotionless brand leader Tide was trying to be emotional. Not yet fully successful, but an A for effort, on a very difficult brand to be emotional. It looks like P&G gets it and in a big way is starting to make a difference.

With the 2012 Olympic Games, I have to fully confess that the one brand that jumps out is P&G. I saw them announce to a room of Moms of the Olympic Athletes that they were sending them to the opening ceremonies and there were tears everywhere. And they have done one of the best TV ads, appropriately titled “Best Jobs” where it showcases how hard Moms work to get their athletes to the games. As P&G makes the move to a hybrid approach to a master brand, this is an amazing start. I love this ad.

And they are trying very hard to link each of their brands into the Olympics.

  • Gillette – “A Great Start Every Day” campaign featuring Swiss tennis player Roger Federer, British cyclist Sir Chris Hoy, Chinese Badminton player Lin Dan, Brazilian swimmer Felipe Franca, and American swimmer Ryan Lochte
  • Ariel & Tide – “Proud Keeper of Your Country’s Colours” campaign featuring Turkish runner Nevin Yanit and Mexican pentathlete Oscar Soto
  • Pampers – “Celebrating Babies’ Unique Spirit of Play” campaign featuring U.S. beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings and British marathoner Paula Radcliffe
  • Pantene – “Keep Shining” campaign featuring Argentine tennis player Gisela Dulko, Mexican diver Paola Espinosa, and American swimmer Natalie Coughlin
  • Head & Shoulders – “Wash in Confidence” featuring American swimmer Michael Phelps and French handball player Nikola Karabatic

Way to go P&G, whoever the heck P&G is.

About Graham Robertson: I’m a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands. I love great TV ads, I love going into grocery stores on holidays and I love seeing marketers do things I wish I came up with. I’m always eager to talk with marketers about what they want to do. I have walked a mile in your shoes. My background includes CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke. I’m now a marketing consultant helping brands find their love and find growth for their brands. I do executive training and coaching of executives and brand managers, helping on strategy, brand planning, advertising and profitability. I’m the President of Beloved Brands Inc. and can help you find the love for your brand. To read more about Beloved Brands Inc, visit http://beloved-brands.com/inc/