|P&G's Home Made Simple newsletter may turn up as a weekly TV show on a Discovery Network's channel, a sign of the marketer's ongoing branded entertainment efforts.
According to people familiar with the matter, P&G is developing the project with Discovery, as the giant package-goods marketer is in the midst of shifting a growing portion of its marketing budget to branded entertainment.
Launched in 2000, Home Made Simple is a magazine-like online relationship marketing vehicle that shows off P&G home-care brands, including Tide, Cascade, Febreze, Dawn, Swiffer and Mr. Clean, through cleaning tips and recipes, as well as articles on organizing, home décor, gardening and crafts. The site also serves as platform for launching a raft of contests, promotions and special offers.
People familiar with the deal declined to provide specifics on the planned adaptation -- neither who might host or even which of Discovery’s top-40 basic cable channels it might appear on.
A P&G spokeswoman also declined to comment on the program or on another upcoming branded-content venture in which P&G will extend its relationship with Mark Burnett Productions with a placement for its flagship Tide detergent in the initial season of NBC’s Apprentice: Martha Stewart.
Either way, the deals are the latest evidence that P&G hasn’t lost its appetite for branded content deals despite rising costs and getting caught in the crossfire of a since-resolved legal spat between Mr. Burnett and branded-content broker Madison Road Entertainment over a brand integration for Crest on The Apprentice last year.
That deal, as well as P&G’s integration the year before with Mr. Burnett’s Survivor on CBS, have been well reviewed internally, according to people familiar with P&G, particularly by one of the key decision makers, Rob Steele, group president for North America, whose division oversees communications planning and media buying. Mr. Steele also heads P&G’s U.S. sales organization and is said to be pleased with the retail promotional tie-in opportunities presented by branded content deals, too.
The timing could also be right for Discovery. A new multithemed home improvement series could just be what Discovery is looking for to woo back women. While male-skewing shows like American Chopper and Monster Garage are performing well, Trading Spaces has been declining in the ratings.
Should Home Made Simple hit the airwaves, P&G could bring some marketing muscle in the form of an already established and popular Web site and online loyalty program with 6 million opt-in subscribers. Besides promoting P&G products, the site has also included advertising for Wal-Mart Stores.
Home Made Simple was launched by Bridge Worldwide, Cincinnati, an interactive and relationship marketing shop. But the account shifted earlier this year to Barefoot Advertising, Cincinnati, which hadn’t handled interactive work for P&G prior to that, though it added interactive staffers to the project, according to people familiar with the agency.
The account move was prompted in part by plans to shift the focus of Home Made Simple to the TV series, they said. Executives of Bridge and Barefoot declined to comment. Publicis Groupe's Starcom MediaVest Group, New York, handles communications planning and media buying for the brands involved.
P&G already has done extensive brand integration work with Discovery Networks through several years of cross-platform media deals, including weekly product integration of Swiffer with TLC's home improvement show Trading Spaces and Crest Whitestrips with TLC's self-improvement series What Not to Wear.
Genevieve Gorder, an interior designer on Trading Spaces and host of TLC's Town Haul, is also pitch woman for the Swiffer Sweep & Vac.
Of course, P&G is no stranger to producing TV programming.
P&G has a long history as a soap-opera producer, dating to radio shows in the 1930s. Its P&G Productions unit continues to produce shows such as CBS’ The Guiding Light, though not as a brand integration vehicle. P&G also helped develop and back Speaking of Women’s Health on Lifetime TV in cooperation with a nonprofit organization by the same name and Wal-Mart, which has built an extensive in-store marketing program around the show with promotional tie-ins to P&G and other brands.