Procter & Gamble Co. and Wieden & Kennedy have two very different takes on moms in near-simultaneous new ads for the corporate brand and Old Spice. But the company sees it as all the same -- in a way.
In the earnest corporate "Pick Them Back Up" ad released Jan. 6, P&G and Wieden portray moms as misty-eyed unsung heroes behind Olympic athletes. In an over-the-top Old Spice ad released three days earlier, P&G and Wieden portray moms as stalkers hiding behind bedroom doors, slithering from beneath couch cushions and lurking behind creepy janitor masks as they sing laments over sons who grow up and date young women.
"This is two different takes on the same insight -- that our mom is our greatest fan, whether she's raising an Olympian or an Old Spice guy," said P&G spokesman Paul Fox in an e-mail.
The surreal stalker moms are winning the viewership battle. And an analysis for Advertising Age by social analytics firm Infegy found both ads generated positive buzz overall, though Old Spice has gotten more attention and far more negative feedback, particularly from females.
Old Spice's 60-second "Momsong" was "the No. 1 viral video in the world" on Jan. 6 claimed Old Spice Marketing Director John Sebastian in an e-mail. As of Jan. 8, it had bested the corporate image ad on YouTube, garnering 3.1 million views versus the Olympics ad.
Both ads got paid-media juice, with "Pick Them Back Up" featured on Yahoo sign-in pages among other places and the Old Spice ad getting extensive TV play on NFL playoff broadcasts in addition to search and other online placements.
So what was Mr. Sebastian thinking in greenlighting an ad that by some Twitter accounts silenced rooms of football viewers?
"Knowing that we had some pretty awesome innovation [a new molecule that lets scent last all day to prevent over-spraying] we set out to talk to a younger target" of 12-to-24-year-olds, Mr. Sebastian said. But he also believes it will appeal to the moms who actually buy the stuff.
"With any marketing campaign, there are always different opinions," he said. "Our aim is to build loyalty for the brand, and I think we're delivering on that." The viewership numbers, he said, have P&G feeling good.
Bloggers and other commentators were split. "When I saw it during an NFL game on the weekend both my son and I felt awkward," said Urbanmoms blogger Jen Maier. But blogger Jessica Gottlieb tweeted: "I just found out that I'm supposed to be offended by Old Spice. Oops."