Profile: Procter & Gamble

Boys explained. Yes, please!

Boys explained. Yes, please!

Procter & Gamble, Canada’s largest ad spender in 2004 at $170 million, is playing to win in the fisticuffs to attract the ever-evasive consumer. Juicy bits like the former can be found on the Web site designed for its Tampax line of products for teens.

The site, packed with tips and advice, broaches the topics of boys, sex, puberty and divorce on a poppy, colourful backdrop – and it’s just for girls. It’s more of what’s to come in the packaged goods Goliath’s current strategy to be ‘media-neutral,’ says Win Sakdinan, P&G Canada spokesperson.

‘We’ll never abandon TV,’ he says, but a media-neutral approach means the firm’s ad spend will increasingly go where consumers are. The Web site, for example, uses the Internet not only to reach teen girls where they spend the bulk of their time, but delivers the product’s message in a more intimate, one-on-one way.

Innovative marketing clearly calls for innovative products. The last few years have seen an explosion of products and product offshoots from the Cincinnati-based P&G HQ, and its two stellar examples, Swiffer and Mr. Clean, a 47-year-old brand, have been doing a pretty good job of keeping the brand fresh.

Swiffer, launched in 1998, has done the unimaginable: rejuvenate the very un-sexy category of mops, brooms and dusters, where very little had changed in decades, and in the process become a household name. And Mr. Clean has found new life with the likes of Magic Eraser and the Mr. Clean Auto Dry products, to name a few.

For P&G’s agencies, therefore, the challenge is to break through the ad clutter with creative media outreach, says Kate Marshall, VP account group director at Toronto’s Grey Canada, which handles the Mr. Clean brand. ‘With Mr. Clean, we’re trying to talk to consumers in a way that is entertaining and doesn’t take the cleaning product too seriously.’

The latest in the Mr. Clean Auto Dry family is the Auto Dry Pro Series, a car wash kit, which just hit store shelves this month. Targeting men, the media push will involve TV spots (to launch in the spring, the start of car washing season), print ads in auto magazines and in-store demonstrations on weekends in over 60 stores across the country.

Marshall says finding ways to generate and build word-of-mouth marketing has also been earmarked as an important strategy moving forward. She describes the agency’s challenge as: ‘How to make a product buzz worthy so that, like Swiffer, people are talking about it at cocktail parties.’

Sakdinan says those two brands, along with Crest, are prime examples of a key part of where the company’s effort lies: not only to build respectable brands but ‘franchises,’ or a string of brands under one name, and in the process win over consumers.