P&G Makes NASCAR Scene

Mr. Clean gets vidgame integration

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%%STORYIMAGE_RIGHT%% For decades, Mr. Clean was a ladies' man, playing on homemakers' subconscious fantasies of a muscular man who would come around and lend a hand when hubby was gone. But in his new incarnation hawking car-wash products, Mr. Clean has taken on double duty as one of Procter & Gamble Co.'s few male-oriented brands, so he's getting into the action of EA Sports' Nascar 2005 video game to beef up his guy credentials.

Mr. Clean this year joins P&G's other male-oriented brand, Old Spice, which has been a past and current integration partner with EA Sports' Nascar and College Football games, sponsoring "Old Spice Red Zone" reports on the latter.

Old Spice's experience with EA was positive enough that Bob Gilbreath, Mr. Clean brand manager, decided to give his brand a spin around the track with "Nascar 2005: Race for the Cup," which officially goes on sale Sept. 2. The P&G brands join Levi's, AutoZone and Chrysler Corp.'s Dodge in a total of $1 million in in-game placements this year, according to EA Sports.

P&G hasn't been a huge player in video games, with Pringles being the only other brand to try game integration so far. But Gilbreath said the Nascar game integration was a natural for Mr. Clean AutoDry, a towel-free car-wash kit that launched last year with a heavy dose of Nascar marketing.

"Everyone marketing to men now is saying the same thing: they're going away from TV," Gilbreath said. "They're into DVDs and video games. Everyone is trying to crack the code. So we're trying to climb up the learning curve [with this EA Sports integration]."

%%PULLQUOTE_LEFT%% Besides a Mr. Clean AutoDry car, the brand will be on in-race banner ads during the action and be part of a premium package for game winners, in which they can choose to have pit crews made up of all Mr. Clean icons, who are muscular enough to lift cars without recourse to a jack.

P&G research prior to the launch of AutoDry late last year showed guys had little problem accepting the Mr. Clean brand and didn't see it as an exclusively women's brand or floor-care brand, Gilbreath said. Still, as a 45-year-old brand whose best days had been well behind it prior to a recent new-product and marketing binge, Mr. Clean still needs to develop some street cred, or perhaps track cred, with younger men who play video games.

"I think it gives Mr. Clean credibility with that target," Gilbreath said. Being part of the game action makes it appear that "this is somebody who's with us," he said, "not just a traditional kind of guy."

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