|P&G's soaps have been on TV since the medium was young. The sleeping giant of content creation may be planning a push into new media.
But with soaps losing interest from audiences, P&G has essentially become a sleeping giant as other producers have flocked to prime time on the broadcast or cable networks with a flurry of brand-backed programming.
There are now signs that P&G is stirring awake.
Expansion into new content and media
Procter & Gamble Productions has hired two new directors for its New York production arm to work on its soaps and its expansion into new content and media.
Amy Handelsman, who was most recently creative director at the Showtime Development Project at the Mark Taper Forum and has produced films for ABC, Tri-Star, PBS, CBS, Showtime and HBO, has joined the P&G production unit as director, writer and creative development.
Leslie Gauld, most recently assistant VP-global marketing for L'Oreal USA's fine-fragrance division, including the Ralph Lauren brand, joins P&G Productions as director-marketing.
Both will work on P&G's existing CBS soap operas "As the World Turns" and "Guiding Light" as well as work on P&G's expansion into new areas, which a spokesman declined to specify.
"PGP has always been on the cutting edge of branded entertainment, and as we expand the definition of both traditional and new media, we will continue to rely on the talents of the best and brightest both in front of and behind the camera to keep our 'World' turning, our 'Light' shining, and our horizons broadening," said Brian Cahill, VP-director of operations and strategic initiatives of TeleVest Daytime Programs for Procter & Gamble Productions.
P&G doesn't have a choice but to broaden its horizons and start producing more programming.
Declining ratings for soap operas
Its soaps, along with many others, have seen steadily declining ratings in recent years, leading to speculations they could eventually join former P&G property "Another World" in the soap graveyard. Women joining the workforce and finding other entertainment options, such as daytime talk shows, have led the viewer exodus from soaps.
But P&G earlier this year gave "Another World" new life on AOL's video-on-demand service, launching the P&G-branded "Classic Soaps" channel as part of AOL Video. Vintage episodes of other discontinued P&G soaps, including "The Edge of Night," "Search for Tomorrow" and "Texas" are also available on AOL Video.
P&G also this summer launched "In Turn," a recently concluded 22-episode online reality series on CBS.com's broadband channel in which contestants competed for a role on the network soap.
But P&G has said repeatedly it has no current plans for offering full episodes of its existing CBS soaps anywhere but on the network.
P&G hasn't only been playing in the daytime space. In 1979, it produced and sponsored "Shirley" and, more recently, the TBS comedy series "Down to Earth." It also co-produced the teen sudser "Dawson's Creek," with Sony's Columbia Pictures Television.