BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- Procter & Gamble Co. has handed the global digital account for Pampers, its biggest brand, to surprise candidate Strawberry Frog, which has little track record with P&G but edged out North American incumbent Critical Mass and at least two others on the package-goods giant's digital roster.
The move for the $8 billion global brand, which represents around 10% of P&G's sales, follows a review that took place quietly this summer and also included Publicis Groupe's Digitas and WPP's Bridge Worldwide, according to people familiar with the matter. Executives close to the marketer say work on the account already is under way.
Strawberry Frog's only verifiable prior work for P&G was a digital project for P&G Productions' "People's Choice Awards" last year, which included creation of the website ApathyParty08.com, which remains up, though the campaign is long over.
Even a roster shop?
It's not clear that Strawberry Frog was even part of P&G's digital roster previously. A P&G spokeswoman declined to comment on the roster membership or other participants in the review, and Strawberry Frog was not among roster members when P&G last announced a North American digital roster in 2006.
Strawberry Frog will join an agency lineup on Pampers that includes Publicis' Saatchi & Saatchi and Starcom MediaVest Group for creative and media buying, respectively, and Aegis Group's Carat for communications planning. Agencies involved either declined to comment or did not respond by deadline.
One person familiar with the matter said Strawberry Frog's very "un-P&G-like" manner and lack of track record was actually an attraction for a brand that was looking for new perspective and challenges to old ways of thinking. The P&G spokeswoman, however, said Strawberry Frog's appointment was not intended as a challenge to Saatchi for the rest of the creative business.
While it's P&G's biggest brand, Pampers has faced trouble holding onto consumers amid the recession and incursions by private labels and P&G's own sibling Luvs value brand. Despite Luvs gaining share, P&G lost share both in diapers (2.8 points to 47.9%) and training pants (0.9 points to 14.7%), while rival Kimberly-Clark Corp. gained share in both categories with its Huggies and Pull-Ups brands in the second quarter, according to Information Resources Inc. data from Deutsche Bank.
P&G declined to confirm whether Pampers is its biggest global digital account, but it has rarely awarded digital assignments on a global basis up to now. Pampers is one of P&G's most global businesses, with considerable business throughout Latin America, Russia, China, Southeast Asia and, most recently, India. (The New York-based Strawberry Frog's website indicates it has a Sao Paolo, Brazil, location, and is working on an office in Mumbai, India.)
In the U.S., the brand spent only about $800,000 of its $47 million-plus measured media outlay on internet advertising, according to TNS Media Intelligence. But that doesn't include an immense global website with hundreds of pages and 1.5 million monthly visitors in the U.S. alone, according to Compete.com. Such traffic is considerable considering only about 12 million women in the U.S. are pregnant at any given time. The site also anchors an extensive e-mail relationship program.
Indeed, Pampers' digital efforts impressed Global Brand-Building Officer Marc Pritchard enough that he named Lucas Watson, the associate marketing director who had overseen the brand's digital and relationship efforts, as global team leader for P&G's corporate digital group last year.