P&G Reports Major Sales Lift From Martha Stewart Show

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CINCINNATI -- "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart" apparently wasn’t a good fit for NBC, which recently announced it won’t air a second season. But Procter & Gamble Co. is still fired up about its brand integration for Tide to Go, which used an appearance on the show to anchor a cross-platform effort that doubled sales of the product.

P&G's new Tide to Go product got a major sales lift from its 'Apprentice' tie-in.

Call it the Martha paradox.

On the show, Ms. Stewart's failed would-be apprentices get coached out politely with “You just don’t fit” (as opposed to Donald Trump's brusque "Your fired" send-off). But Tide wound up getting a product placement that did fit. And even though the series was widely panned for disappointing ratings, Tide came away quite satisfied with an integrated effort that pushed its stain-fighting pen to new heights of online and retail visibility.

Go figure.

Numbers look good

Actually, Tide's associate marketing director, Julie Woffington, has. And the numbers look pretty good. The Tide-backed episode, which aired the week of Nov. 2, and promotions around it, lured 500,000 visitors to Tide.com, boosted the brand’s e-mail database by 250,000 and generated 300,000 requests for samples. The brand got 7 million post-show PR impressions, largely via appearances by the failed team leader on NBC’s "Today" and the daytime "Martha" talk show.

Perhaps most important, particularly for a small item that can be relatively hard to find amid the hulking packages of the laundry aisle, the integration spurred a considerable increase in off-shelf retail display, including some at checkout lanes.

It all added up to doubling sales from a week prior to the show -- a week during which the rest of the launch campaign for the brand, which began this summer, was in full force.

“This is a one-time deal with them, so what happens to the show afterward isn’t as relevant,” Ms. Woffington said. “With the ratings, obviously the more people the better, but what we really tried to do is build a holistic plan around it, so we’ve gotten so much more than we would get just from people watching the show.”

No financial details disclosed

Tide execs declined to disclose financial details of the integration, but previous task sponsorships on the show have been valued at north of $1 million.

Around the integration, P&G built a program that included e-mails to 40 million consumers via the Tide, PG.com, Upromise and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia databases; a five-second tagline on 30-second ads the week prior to the show promoting the appearance; and a 15-second TV ad that ran during and in weeks after the show, featuring the screaming drill sergeant from current brand ads by Publicis Groupe’s Saatchi & Saatchi, New York, pitching a contest. P&G’s Brand Saver coupon circular also featured an ad showing off the stain remover and text, saying, “As seen on 'The Apprentice: Martha Stewart.'”

Saatchi sibling Starcom MediaVest Group, New York, handled communications planning and media buying. Independent WhitmanHart, Chicago, handled interactive.

“The results are still coming in,” Ms. Woffington said, “but we did see a big lift in terms of sales. And then I think there’s also a buzz factor among consumers and retailers that will play out for a while. ... We could not have felt better about the branding -- the focus on the benefit and the ‘on the go’ [in the work of the "Apprentice" teams]. ... It was really 30 minutes of integrated branding, and that’s pretty hard to beat.”

Tide-to-Go Joe

Unlike some "Apprentice" ad shootouts, where both teams fail, the mobile billboard created by winning team Matchstick “really nailed it,” Ms. Woffington said. The tagline for the real-life ad campaign is “Tide to the Rescue.” Matchstick’s effort featured a superhero, Tide-to-Go Joe, rescuing people from the sort of stains the product was designed for, such as coffee and wine.

The losing team, Primarius, on the other hand, had a disorganized effort that ended up looking like bizarre street theater on a theme of “movement,” getting at, not too successfully, the on-the-go part.

Peter Arnell, founder and chief creative officer of the Omnicom Group agency that bears his name and handles MSLO, termed Primarius’ effort one of the most “pathetic” marketing campaigns he’d ever seen --one that might even have damaged the brand. Strong words from a man who saw Celine Dion’s ads for Chrysler at close range.

“It did provide some entertainment value, and you do need that to get people to watch,” Ms. Woffington said of the Primarius campaign.

High on brand integration

Will Tide be back again? Not necessarily with Martha Stewart, or "The Apprentice," but certainly with brand integration.

Indeed, only nine days after "The Apprentice" appearance, Tide Coldwater detergent linked with the "Montel Williams Show," which pitched it as part of a strategy for tackling high energy costs and distributed samples to the audience, generating about 17 million consumer impressions, Ms. Woffington said.

She added: “We’re going to be looking to do more and more of this thing, keep experimenting and take smart risks with new marketing models and connecting with consumers in new ways.”
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