Rather than fight for access to key athletes in the 2012 games, Procter & Gamble is promoting its brand — personal care and home goods — by turning its cameras to the champions’ moms.
“While P&G may not be in the business of athletic equipment, sports drinks or athletic apparel, we are in the business of helping Mom,” according to the company’s statement about its “Thank You, Mom” Olympics content project.
“We will be using our voice in the London 2012 Olympic Games to acknowledge Mom’s rightful place in the 2012 Games.”
In one short film, Raising an Olympian: “Learning to Let Go”, mom Natalie Hawkins talks about her daughter, Olympian gymnast Gabrielle Douglas. The camera dissolves from Hawkins, presumably at home in Virginia Beach, to Des Moines, Iowa, where Gabrielle is inside the Chow’s Gymnastic and Dance Institute, a U.S. national team training center. She’s at the beam, standing thoughtfully against the apparatus of her sport.
“I know I need to do it,” says Hawkins, “but how do I send my youngest child away to a family that I don’t know?”
This is clearly a mother’s story. And the Olympics are the backdrop. But Procter & Gamble is …. where exactly?
“Good content marketing is rarely directly about the products or services the company promotes,” says Rebecca Lieb, analyst for Altimeter Group. “And how would you tie Charmin into the games, anyway?”
But while P&G isn’t shilling toilet paper in a video like Raising an Olympian — the company’s title only comes in at the end: “P&G: Proud Sponsor of Moms” and “Worldwide Partner” of the Olympics — they are doing something subtle by association.
“P&G is sending a more tacit message: these moms did something very, very right,” said Lieb. “They’re highlighting moms as heroes, giving them their moment of glory. I bet that’s something all moms appreciate and aspire to. It’s smart associative messaging.”
Some have questioned whether “Thank You, Mom” plays into social stereotypes, according, to a Reuters article in July 2012.
Lieb says the campaign fits the brand’s image and goals.
“That a child made it to the Olympics can be taken as an endorsement of a mom’s dedication in many respects: good nutrition, health care, support, motivation, etc.,” she said. “These are values all moms aspire to.”
And perhaps equally important, Lieb notes: “P&G is focusing on moms because they are very squarely the target demographic for the company’s vast array of consumer package goods products. Moms overwhelmingly make those purchase decisions.”
Is it working?
Sociagility ranked the campaign high as effective, right off, and as Reuters reported at the end of July: “U.S. consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble, which issued a profit warning last month, still expects its 2012 Olympic sponsorship to generate $500 million in additional sales.”
The new content marketing push comes at a crucial time for the company. P&G is restructuring to the tune of $10 billion. Perhaps, with a little help from mom, the Olympics will help make that happen.