P&G Marketing Chief Touts Role of Facebook, Yahoo in 'Thank You, Mom' Campaign

Believes Company Is On Track to Generate $500M in Sales Off Olympics Push

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Procter & Gamble is looking to generate $500 million in sales off its massive marketing push centered on Olympic athletes and their moms, and while it won't know if it's hit the mark until the fall, Global Brand Building Officer Marc Pritchard thinks they're on track.

Marc Pritchard
Marc Pritchard

During a call from London yesterday, Mr. Pritchard was bullish about the effectiveness of online platforms such as Facebook and Yahoo, calling them "fundamental," and characterized P&G's Olympics effort as the attempt to build a "perfect storm" of TV, digital, social and PR activity around closely followed events. It spans 34 brands and 150 sponsored athletes, with the "Thank you, Mom" concept that was first executed during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics serving as "the glue that ties it together to do multi-brand activations within retailers," he said.

Retailers that have activated the campaign with in-store displays tied to it have seen a 5% to 20% sales lift for P&G products in the three- or four-week Olympic merchandising period, he said.

Beyond its massive scope, what's unique about the campaign is the volume of content created and how early it was rolled out, he said. (The rollout began online 100 days prior to the opening ceremony on April 18.) Mr. Pritchard spoke in particular of the "mom-umentaries" featuring Olympians' mothers that have been distributed on TV but also online as sponsored content and video ads.

"What's important from a marketing standpoint is the fact that part of our jobs as brand builders is to create content that people want to share," he said.

Mr. Pritchard gave an example of how P&G sought to create the "perfect storm" during a recent beach volleyball match played by Americans Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh. Halfway through the third set, NBC aired a "Thank you, Mom" segment where Ms. Walsh praised her mother, which was followed by an ad from Pampers (Ms. Walsh's sponsor) and then a P&G ad. Meanwhile, Facebook posts and tweets were being fired out to cheer them on.

To capitalize on the surge of interest around China's Wu Minxia, a Pantene-sponsored athlete, P&G hosted her mother at the 3-meter springboard event and took photos of her as her daughter was winning gold. It then distributed them on the Chinese portal Tencent (which Mr. Pritchard called P&G's "key partner" in the market) and the Twitter-like service Weibo.

Mr. Pritchard said that Facebook had been an early partner to launch the campaign when it began rolling out athletes' and their moms' video testimonials to start building momentum. It launched "Thank you, Mom" pages in 29 countries in April, which also included an app that guides users through the process of uploading family photos and writing messages to their mothers to be shared in their news feeds.

Mr. Pritchard declined to say how much P&G had spent on sponsored stories to promote its Facebook content. He also said that Yahoo was P&G's biggest partner on the display and video ad front, in addition to hosting sponsored contents on its Team Mom blog.

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