CYBERCRITIQUE: P&G's umbrella site stands to confuse users

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MARKETER: Procter & Gamble Co.

WHERE TO FIND IT: PG.com

CRITIQUE: To be or not to be is not really the question anymore. Most major marketers have realized they need some sort of Web presence to survive and grow. To sponsor or to develop: Now that is the question. Procter & Gamble Co. has committed fully to what it considers to be the answer and has developed its own product portal.

The new PG.com is ambitious. It takes a company with a large array of powerful brands in different categories and tries to pull product information into an uber site -- thereby also trying to brand the mothership.

Basically, it's trying to straddle the line between a multifaceted package goods content site and being an umbrella to its established product sites such as Tide.com, Pampers.com and content sites such as teen girls' site BeingGirl.com.

Either side of the gap is sure footing. A magazinelike site that featured a lot of P&G products could work well for the company. Brand-centric microsites could work well for the brands. But this notion of a site that sits on top of all the other sites and sends users back and forth between the mothership and the pods, no. It's confusing. There are too many intermediate steps. It's unclear what advantage consumers get by coming with their paper towel-related questions and not going straight to Bounty.com. The bridge is shaky as Galloping Gertie.

Could P&G accomplish the same goals by working with its existing product sites and sponsoring other content sites' as its Jif peanut butter brand does with Family.com? Absolutely, which leaves us with questioning P&G's strategy on this one.

WHO CREATED IT: Critical Mass, Calgary, Alberta.

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