The General Motors brand got big buzz by giving away G6 cars to the entire audience of "The Oprah Winfrey Show." But in what figures to be its largest public-relations-driven play in P&G history, Pampers is harnessing the star power of both Ms. Winfrey and Salma Hayek for a global giveaway that also benefits a cause. Today on "Oprah," the pair endorses a linkup with UNICEF in which the brand will donate one tetanus shot to an expectant mom for every pack of specially marked diapers sold through August.
"It's like a triple play on opening day," said Kirk Perry, VP-general manager of North American baby care for P&G.
Here's why: Both Ms. Hayek, spokeswoman for the P&G effort, and Ms. Winfrey have particular influence with baby care's key demographics.
Hispanic and African-American women account for nearly 40% of births and have birthrates up to double that of white women, yet traditionally they've been underrepresented among buyers of Pampers.
So it was a coup to enlist one of the two most popular female Hispanic entertainers in the U.S. (Ms. Hayek ranked just behind her pal Penelope Cruz in a 2006 Davie-Brown Index of popularity among Spanish-speaking actresses) as spokeswoman for the U.S. leg of the cause-marketing push, which is already running in Europe. That's not to mention introducing it on "Oprah," hosted by the most popular African-American female (or female of any race) in several rankings.
"The reality in this country is that our consumer base is changing very rapidly," Mr. Perry said. "Almost half the births in the U.S. are of non-Caucasian babies. As we look forward not only today but also over the next five to 10 years, the minorities will be the majority in terms of births."
Gift of the day
In a "Big Give" planned as part of the appearance today, rather than getting something for personal use (like a Pontiac), the 350 guests in the audience each will have 100 vaccinations given in their names, and P&G will donate 1 million in the name of Ms. Winfrey (a $68,000 value in all).
The ultimate goal is to donate 27 million vaccines through UNICEF from North America as part of a global effort to donate more than 50 million. Along the way, the aim is to eradicate tetanus in 12 African nations, starting by vaccinating expectant moms. And the "One pack equals one vaccination" equation P&G is touting in TV ads, e-mails, packaging and an April 6 newspaper coupon insert makes for a tangible proposition that, even though it doesn't appeal to self-interest, clearly appeals.
Sixty- and 30-second TV ads backing the Unicef effort from Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, New York, also set to break today, ranked better on copy tests than any other franchisewide ad in Pampers' four-decade history. (Some product-specific ads have scored better.)
"We've never had a piece of copy that cut across [all our products] in such a significant way," Mr. Perry said. "When you read the verbatims, when you look at where we did really well, it's that Pampers has what I'd call a right of way to connect with moms both intellectually but also emotionally. ... It made you feel proud to work for a company and a brand that was doing something so significant, because of what the consumers were playing back."
Reception of retailers to the program has been so strong that P&G has extended the offer and in-store promotion two months beyond the original three-month plan, through August, Mr. Perry said.
The Unicef promotion began in Western Europe last year (where Pampers generally is No. 1 vs. No. 2 to Kimberly-Clark Corp.'s Huggies in the U.S.) and has rolled into 20 countries prior to the U.S. Based on results in Europe, where the effort exceeded its targets, Mr. Perry is expecting big things in this country.
Even before the U.S. rollout of the new program, P&G Global Marketing Officer Jim Stengel said in February that the Pampers-Unicef tie-in likely has been the company's strongest cause-marketing effort.