BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- Despite years of mulling marketing life after TV, most big package-goods brands still make it the centerpiece of their plans. But Kimberly-Clark Corp.'s Huggies and Procter & Gamble Co.'s Old Spice, brands that generally have relied mostly on TV, are going TV-free for some current and coming initiatives.
In the past, all diaper-line launches for Huggies have included some TV. But Huggies is leaning heavily on digital, word-of-mouth and print to support the campaign that started last month for its superpremium Pure & Natural line, made with more natural, recycled and organic products than typical disposable diapers.
Pure & Natural is also going with a fairly unusual agency lineup to support the launch. WPP's JWT, New York, global agency of record on the brand, is sitting this one out because of a heavy workload on other projects, a K-C spokesman said. Buzzwords, an independent shop in Appleton, Wis., is handling creative.
WPP still has substantial involvement, with media shop Mindshare and word-of-mouth unit M80 participating. Edelman, Chicago, is handling public relations, and digital is being handled in-house.
The brand isn't ruling out TV to support Pure & Natural, said Tim Abate, senior brand manager, but the TV-free effort made sense given the target of first-time moms of infants and expectant moms, who are particularly heavy internet users.
Turning off tube
P&G isn't talking yet about its plans for a coming Old Spice campaign using digital and print without TV. But Shelley Stevens, account director on Old Spice at Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., brought it up during a presentation to the Ad Club of Cincinnati in April.
She said despite Wieden's extensive reel of funny ads, which helped the brand rebound from a long decline and attain record volume in December, it would be trying a TV-free initiative. In an unusual arrangement for P&G, Wieden handles most of the marketing mix for Old Spice, including digital and communications planning, so the agency has nothing to lose from the shift.
Neither company is about to go cold turkey on TV anytime soon, and considerable evidence points to the medium being as effective as ever. "We are not moving away from television en masse," said Kimberly-Clark Chief Marketing Officer Tony Palmer. "These shifts that we're seeing in media are the result of a lot of micro decisions to drive exactly the right programs on the brands."
A massive ethnographic study by the Council on Research Excellence released in March found that more than 99% of time people in the U.S. spend with video still comes the old-fashioned way -- on the tube -- and only 0.5% takes place online. A recent study by Advertising Research Foundation Chief Research Officer Joel Rubinson of more than 300 studies on TV effectiveness found that despite the rise of DVRs and other forms of commercial avoidance, there has been no erosion in return on investment from TV ads.
Underscoring that, what may be the three biggest new personal-care launches of the past year -- Telebrands' PedEgg, IdeaVillage's Smooth Away and Johnson & Johnson's Neutrogena SkinID -- have relied mainly on direct-response TV, much of it surrendered by conventional advertisers amid the deepening recession. One media-agency executive said he believes networks handed over excess inventory to DRTV advertisers rather than renegotiate at lower prices with conventional advertisers in order to avoid lowering the rate base going into this year's likely difficult upfront negotiations.
But if networks are out to prove they can live with less money from mainstream advertisers, the TV-free efforts by Kimberly-Clark and P&G may help show that package-goods marketers can live with less TV, too.