At P&G China, the Devil Wears Max Factor

Procter & Gamble Creates Social Networking Site That Lets Young Women Edit Their Own Fashion Magazine

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HONG KONG ( -- Procter & Gamble is helping young Chinese women develop their inner diva -- and sample the life of a fashion magazine editor -- with the first-ever social networking campaign for Max Factor, a cosmetics brand no longer sold in the U.S. that is finding new life overseas.

P&G has created a web site,, that provides an online platform for women in mainland China to share make up tips by creating a "Maxgazine." Launched Sept. 4, the project will run for one year.

In China, Max Factor is aimed at women aged 18 to 25 in tier one and tier two cities who value the brand for its Hollywood history. Max Factor was the make up brand of choice for legendary stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe.

While Max Factor products like mascara and lipstick are popular in China, the brand has been a blemish on P&G's overall track record.

P&G bought the brand in 1991, but many American stores stopped carrying it years ago, prompting P&G to discontinue Max Factor in the U.S. in June 2009. Max Factor is still available in 70 countries, including many Asian markets.

Consumers become make-up artists
On the Max Factor site, consumers can flip through the pages of their e-magazine while they are editing just like a real magazine. After the finishing touches are done using special editing applications on the site, they can publish their Maxgazine cover on the news feed of their own social networking site in China, often Tencent's, and forward the issue to friends by e-mail.

In the first two pages of each personalized e-magazine, the Max Factor's official make up artist in China, Zhang Renzhi, shares make up tips for a new product, Masterpiece Max Mascara. After that, the content is up to them.

"We put the Max Factor consumer in the role of a make up editor and give them the chance to create their own style and share their content" in hopes of generating internet word of mouth, said Victor Manggunio, executive creative director of Leo Burnett Arc, Hong Kong, which created the campaign for P&G to use in mainland China.

P&G is marketing the site with ads on major online media sites in China such as, and Yahoo's Chinese site, and promotion at Max Factor retail outlets.

P&G hopes to grow the brand in the mainland by getting young women, who like to share secrets, photos and gossip on the web, involved in make up activities and conversations about Max Factor.

"With social networking one of the main buzz words in China these days, P&G wanted to create something in this space for Max Factor. Rather than try to put up forums and start conversations, we thought we'd let consumers create something, do more than just provide opinions," said Ben Stobart, general manager of the Publicis Groupe agency's Hong Kong office.

The campaign may run in other Asian markets including Hong Kong, but currently it is only running in mainland China.

The site will be refreshed with new content and applications, such as letting visitors vote on their favorite Maxgazine, in November 2009 and February 2010.

"We are adding additional pieces to the site to keep it fresh and sticky so people keep coming back. Also, if there isn't take-up or some things don't work well, we want room to change it," Mr. Stobart said.

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