After 77 years of sponsoring and producing soap operas, even inspiring the name of the genre as the maker of advertised products such as Tide detergent and Ivory soap, Procter & Gamble is now focusing less on TV and turning its attention to the phenomenon of social media, as reported in the Los Angeles Times. Now, rather than viewers following its programs, P&G is following its audience to YouTube, Twitter and Facebook and discovering that social media is a more efficient way to promote its products and connect with consumers. How did P&G click with social media?
While P&G has produced 20 soap operas for radio and TV over the years, the ratings for these daytime dramas have been steadily falling as their target audience of women continued to move into the workplace, switched to watching reality and talk shows, and spent more time on social networking and online media sites.
With its target audience devoting more time and attention to social media, P&G realized that it was becoming the new mass media, especially for women. Rather than put all of their effort into producing expensive TV commercials that had little chance of reaching their target market, they followed their audience online and started communicating in a more effective and efficient way. This year, P&G started using Facebook to sell Pampers diapers and offered an interactive iPhone app for Always feminine products.
Most notably, P&G developed a sensational social media campaign that transformed the Old Spice brand into a pop-culture icon. Their irreverent “Smell Like A Man, Man” commercials starring former football player, Isaiah Mustafa, attracted tens of millions of views on YouTube, then generated additional attention by provoking Twitter questions that Mustafa answered in videos. The resounding effectiveness of this campaign brought P&G impressions they didn’t even pay for or anticipate:
- 1.8 billion impressions (people who saw, read or heard about the commercials)
- 140 million and counting YouTube views for Old Spice and related videos
- 2,700 percent increase in Twitter followers for Old Spice
This success is especially remarkable because P&G is relatively new to digital media. In fact, just 20 months ago, P&G invited Google, Twitter, Facebook and other online experts to its Cincinnati headquarters to help test ways that online and digital media could be used in marketing.
Last February at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, P&G began coordinating TV commercials with Facebook messages and tracking instant reactions to new commercials on Twitter. As a sponsor of Team USA, P&G debuted its heartfelt “Thank you, Mom!” commercials, which added an estimated $100 million in sales. The campaign also included Facebook essay contests and e-cards for mothers.
Today, P&G is continuing to search for innovative ways to leverage social media and communicate with consumers for all of their businesses, including MDVIP, an innovative primary care physician company. MDG Advertising branded and helped to launch MDVIP in 2000 and is currently handling physician recruitment communications. “We realize the highest percentage of conversions result from physician referrals, so our efforts will be focused on developing a professional social platform as we move forward,” said Michael Del Gigante, president and creative director of MDG Advertising.
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