I spent my years in college hearing nothing but praises for Procter and Gamble: their excellent branding strategy and their right-to-the-target advertising campaigns (or their choices of the best ad agencies, I guess). It’s pretty easy to understand why my dream was to eventually work for P&G. But dreams don’t always come true, not right away at least, so I ended up doing PR, event planning, and social media for a beauty salon. But this is not the story.
I recently read an article online that was talking about how for years P&G used “dumb creativity” and repeated ads to win their target, and how only with their Olympics campaign they finally broke that spell (www.brightorangeadv.com/2012/07/pgs-olympics-ad-campaign-could-destroy-its-reputation). That’s not what they thought me in college! And, regardless, I have to disagree.
I think that P&G recent advertising strategy (even before the Olympics) has been focused on taking advantage of emotions to bond with their target (at least for some of their brands.) I might agree that a good percentage of their ads in general is not the epitome of creativity, but can’t we argue that focusing on that emotional connection is different from what most of the competition is doing? And if so, isn’t that creative? I believe so, Your Honor! To me, it’s not only creative: it’s smart. Win their hearts, win their wallets.
For example, let’s talk about batteries: how can you make a battery evoke emotions in your target? How can something you don’t even think about until your remote control dies (and you have to leave the couch to flick through channels) speak to the heart of a buyer? Well, Duracell has been doing it over and over! While the competition has tried for years to say that they are the best because they last longer (A.K.A. the Energizer’s bunny campaign — I’m a little sick of that pink bunny, by the way), Duracell has played the cupid of the industry — and that way has kept the market leadership. And just to set the matter straight, that annoying pink bunny (that, as some of you might remember is nothing but a copycat first invented by Duracell itself) is even telling a (slight) lie if you believe the tests done by this website: www.zbattery.com/batteryinfo.html.
Let me talk about one particular campaign in the Duracell series that struck me. We will never forget September 11th, we will forever mourn those who perished, and forever honor the heroes who tried to save as many lives as they could: the firefighters. P&G might have not had the intention of using that image in their commercial, nor there’s any reference to the event (although I doubt it’s a coincidence), but, about 2 years ago, they came out with an ad showing firefighters at work. I’m sure many Americans thought of the Twin Towers when they saw this ad playing on TV. Here’s the ad:
In this commercial they transformed a battery into a hero itself that, at the last minute, saves the life of those who we consider heroes. Why would you buy a battery sponsored by a pink bunny who just keeps on going clapping its cymbals, while you can buy a battery that’s a hero? Your remote will be a like superman (ok, I’m being a bit sarcastic here!) Obviously “de gustibus non disputandum est” (I had to use this quote after5 years spent studying Latin in high school. And since we are at it, if you look it up online, you’ll see the verb “est” in the wrong place since in Latin the verb always goes at the end of the sentence (show off, I know.) I’m sure there are still people who prefer Energizer (or very likely just pick the first batteries they find and they happen to be Energizer), but if you ask me, and this is my blog after all, the first brand that comes to my mind is Duracell. Not only I make sure to but Duracell and Duracell only (loyal to the bone), I even have trouble to remember the name “Energizer” — I have to pause for a second and think really hard about it (maybe not after this post!)
But the Duracell campaign is full of other emotion filled ads. They found what works and rolled with it. They found their “strike through the heart” campaign (yes, you got me, I love Bon Jovi) and just kept on looking for more emotional situation to engage the consumers with.
But, moving on, what I really want to talk about is the Olympics “Proud sponsor of moms” campaign. After all every body is talking about it. And I do agree with the article I mentioned at the beginning: they simply nailed it!
Let me first say that every time I see this ad I tear up, even writing about it makes me all emotional. Yes, I’m a huge sucker for commercials — I’m their best target, and they totally get me all the time.
But let’s go back to P&G strategy. This ad reminds me of a hunter chasing the biggest deer in the forest aiming at its heart and going for the kill. Yes, it’s a bit of a violent comparison, I know, but let’s face it, mom’s heart was P&G bull’s eye, and they totally hit it straight in the center.
First of all, they sponsor moms! Not the Olympics (like everyone else was doing), not the athletes (the subject of oh so many ads), but moms: their number one target. This alone is genial (of course my humble opinion): they not only spoke directly to their audience, but they also succeeded in differentiating themselves from the sea of commercials going on during the games.
Second of all, they are suggesting that the real reason why these athletes win is because their moms were there to wake them up, prepare breakfast, and support them (while doing all the other chores that require P&G products!) all the way through the big day. These moms are the real winners. Even the athletes know that, and their first glance and thank you goes to the tearing up moms. How can you not win a mother’s heart this way? Finally being recognized for all the hard work is just what every woman needs and deserves, even if their kids never did or will participate in the Olympics.
And then, as another piece of “here’s how it’s done!”, they throw in there some of their most recognized brands, just so that moms know for sure who this P&G actually is (they have so many brands under their umbrella that people might not know it.) If I were a mom, no doubt that the next time I have to buy something at the store, I’d check to see if P&G made it. I mean, they sponsor me and my effort, so I should reciprocate their love, right?
You might argue that I chose two easy examples. I give two more, and I’ll let you be the judge.
I just want to say one thing about this last ad: so many cleaning products tell us that we’ll get the job done faster and have more spare time, but the fact that she is able to spend that saved time on the porch with her son is pretty clever (more time to be with your loved ones.)
Unfortunately though, after re-watching the commercials for most of the other P&G brands in search for other examples, I have to agree with the already mentioned article: there isn’t much of interest to talk about (just imagine a sad face here.) Maybe some humor here and there, http://youtu.be/X2cs8gnb42A, but nothing more than that.
But my point stands: P&G discovered the alchemist’s formula, and I hope they keep on bringing their targets on this emotional trip. So bring it on P&G, my tissue box is ready to be used!
As always, I’ll be looking forward to your comments.
PS: Next topic: Car ads: Hamsters to the Rescue. Stay tuned.