Packaged goods firms building relationships online

While companies of every shape and size have embraced Web-based marketing wholeheartedly, packaged goods manufacturers are still struggling to find a niche in the online world....

While companies of every shape and size have embraced Web-based marketing wholeheartedly, packaged goods manufacturers are still struggling to find a niche in the online world.

For many businesses, after all, the lure of the Internet lies in the prospect of e-commerce. But there’s no indication, as yet, that consumers have any interest in buying tinned soup or toothpaste online. So how will packaged goods firms leverage the Web?

Recent initiatives from some major manufacturers suggest that the new focus will be on relationship-building, through interaction with consumers looking for more personalized online experiences.

Recently, for example, Kraft Canada previewed its soon-to-be-launched personal recipe e-mail service. Once the service is operating (in about six months), consumers will be encouraged to sign up to receive their choice of recipes, via e-mail. The Kraft Canada Web site already boasts several related features, including an interactive kitchen, a meal planning service and a recipe finder/cookbook.

"Our focus going forward is really much more about one-to-one marketing to individual consumers," says Irene B. Rosenfeld, president of Kraft Canada.

Procter & Gamble, meanwhile, recently set up its own interactive marketing team in Canada. This group will work collaboratively with I-Ventures, the global Internet arm of Cincinnati, Ohio-based P&G.

Win Sakdinan, public affairs manager with P&G in Toronto, says the packaged goods giant wants to use the Web to provide more relevant and personal experiences for consumers, while at the same time gathering valuable insights about them.

The Canadian interactive team recently completed its first initiative: a Web contest supporting several major P&G brands. Visitors to the site could register for the contest online, and play various brand-specific games for additional chances to win.

While these kinds of activities are all to the good, some analysts suggest that packaged goods companies would be even better off finding ways to collaborate with their retail partners on Web-based activities.

Miles Faulkner, senior vice-president of e-commerce with Toronto-based Ernst & Young, suggests that they might, for example, work together to build applications designed to drive traffic to the retailer’s site, and help that retailer move more of the manufacturer’s product.

By marketing their brands directly to the consumer online, packaged goods firms risk a backlash from retailers, notes Michael Szego, a consultant with Toronto-based J.C. Williams Group. If a manufacturer wants to create an environment where they can interact with consumers, he says, they should consider building it on a retail partner’s site.

Unilever Canada, for one, is looking hard at how it can work co-operatively with retailers in the online realm.

Bob Noble, vice-president, customer business development and special markets with the Lever Pond’s division of Unilever, says the company wants to understand how retailers do business with consumers on the Web, so that it can help facilitate those efforts.

"We’re trying to understand how the consumer shops the sites and makes a decision about what to buy," he says.

In Brief: The Garden picks CDs to take on daily creative leadership

Plus, Naked names two new leaders of its own and Digital Ethos comes to Canada.

The Garden promotes two creative directors

ACDs Lindsay Eady and Francheska Galloway-Davis have taken over responsibility for day-to-day creative leadership at The Garden after being promoted to creative director roles.

The pair will also help develop the agency’s creative talent, formalizing mentorship and leadership activities they have been doing since joining the agency four and three years ago, respectively. In addition to creating the agency’s internship program, the pair have worked on campaigns for Coinsquare, FitTrack and “The Coke Challenge” campaign for DanceSafe.

Eady and Galloway-Davis will continue to report to The Garden’s co-founder and chief creative officer Shane Ogilvie, who is stepping back from daily creative duties to a more high-level strategic role, allowing him to focus on client relationships and business growth.

Naked Creative Consultancy names new creative and strategy leadership

Toronto’s Naked Creative Consultancy has hired Yasmin Sahni as its new creative director. She is taking over creative leadership from David Kenyon, who has been in the role for 10 years and is moving into a new role as director of strategy, leading the discipline at the agency.

Sahni is coming off of three years as VP and ECD at GTB’s Toronto office, where she managed all the retail, social and service creative for Ford Canada. She previously managed both Vice Media and Vice’s in-house ad agency Virtue.

Peter Shier, president of Naked, says Sahni’s hiring adds to its creative bench and capabilities, as well as a track record of mentorship, a priority for the company. Meanwhile, Kenyon’s move to the strategy side, he says, makes sense because of his deep knowledge of its clients, which have included Ancestry and The Globe and Mail.

Digital Ethos opens a Toronto office

U.K. digital agency Digital Ethos is pursuing new growth opportunities in North America by opening a new office in Toronto.

Though it didn’t disclose them, the agency has begun serving a number of North American clients, and CEO/founder Luke Tobin says the “time was right to invest in a more formal and actual presence in the area.” whose services include design, SEO, pay-per-click, social media, influencer and PR,

This year, the agency’s growth has also allowed it to open an office in Hamburg, Germany, though it also has remote staff working in countries around the world.

Moray Hickes was the company’s first North American hire as VP of sales, tasked with business development in the region.