Reference no: EM131176203
Spending big on advertising has always been a key strategy for consumer products giant Procter & Gamble (P&G). With recent annual global ad spending over $9 billion, P&G is one of the world’s top advertisers. P&G was an early sponsor and producer of daytime radio and TV dramas—for which the term soap opera was coined. Its Guiding Light program began airing on radio in 1937 and moved to TV in 1952. The P&G produced and sponsored As the World Turns, which was the leading soap opera for decades, winning many daytime Emmy awards. However, over the years, women—the target audience for such programs—made a huge shift in their TV viewing habits as they moved into the workplace, became more interested in talk and reality shows, and, more recently, began spending more of their leisure time online. P&G finally pulled the plug on As the World Turns in 2010 after 53 years. In 2006, P&G began working with Facebook to promote its brands using standard banner ads and promoting Facebook groups seeking fans for the company or its products. However, this approach was not very successful. P&G’s biggest success was a Crest Whitestrips promotion that invited college students to become“fans”on its Facebook page. The company offered thousands of free movie screenings and sponsored concerts but still only attracted 14,000 fans to the product’s Facebook page. When the promotions ended, the fans left too. The problem, according to Web guru Seth Goldstein, is:“Advertisers distract users; users ignore advertisers; advertisers distract better; users ignore better.”P&G’s next experiment with social networking was in 2007, when it collaborated with Yahoo! and the ZiZi Group to create Capessa.com, an online social network targeted at women. Capessa enabled women to post their stories and discuss topics such as parenting, managing their careers, getting in shape, and dealing with illnesses. One of the goals of this experiment was to identify ways in which social networking could be used to gain a better understanding of women’s likes, dislikes, interests, and needs. Ultimately, no direct connection between Capessa and an increase in sales could be made. That may be, in part, because some users are skeptical as to whether the stories posted on social networks are from real people or from paidactors or authors. Recognizing that its current approach was not working, P&G invited Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media experts to work with it to explore how online and digital media could more effectively support its marketing program. This spawned several new approaches. P&G has expanded its efforts to sell some top brands (Pampers, Olay, and Pantene) by offering shopping through a Facebook app. Consumers click a Shop Now tab on the page to complete their orders and then check out through Amazon.com. And its“Smell Like a Man, Man”commercials began appearing on YouTube. These commercials starred the beefy ex-football player Isaiah Mustafa wearing only a towel. The commercials were a big hit, drawing over 140 million views and helping its Old Spice brand sales to expand at a double-digit growth rate. As a result of these successes, P&G set a goal that each of its brands develop a meaningful presence on Facebook. In addition, it is creating smartphone applications for its consumers; one free app available at Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android Market provides women with guidance on which P&G beauty products to use and how to use them to get a desired look. Marketing experts say many of the large companies were slow to adopt the use of social networks; however, they also agree that consumer goods companies Coca-Cola, Pepsi, P&G, Unilever, and Johnson & Johnson are now coming on strong. The decision to drop soap operas and move advertising dollars to social media was not a popular one with some senior P&G managers (who had spent much of their careers supporting advertising on soap operas) nor with many soap opera fans (who were very attached to these programs), but the decision was a clear indication that P&G recognizes that“the times they are a-changing.”
1. Should the success of a social networking marketing campaign be measured simply by an increase in units sold? Why or why not?
2. What key arguments might have been used to convince P&G marketing executives to drop their long-running use of soap operas and replace them with social network advertising?
3. Develop a list of five key criteria that P&G might use to assess both the appropriateness and effectiveness of its YouTube commercials.