Hail the king

For a giant, P&G is certainly sprightly.

For a giant, P&G is certainly sprightly.

The number one ad spender in Canada and the largest packaged goods company in the world has been valiantly shifting its ad dollars from mass to non-traditional executions with impressive agility over the past few years. The aim, of course, is for the CPG giant to ensure it continues to reach that evasive consumer.

Tactics include PR, word of mouth, blogs, online marketing strategies and in-store events, the latter for which spending tripled in 2005, says Joyce Law, P&G Canada spokesperson. And expect more of the same. ‘Our [internal] philosophy is that the consumer is boss,’ she says. And with that, she adds, has come a more profound understanding that the ‘message needs to be meaningful’ so the ‘consumer welcomes [it].’

That thinking has translated into more targeted, more refined campaigns for the company’s brands to reach those in charge. Notice a flyer and coupon about Tide Coldwater Wash with your utility bill sometime last year? It was an effort in partnership with some of the country’s utility suppliers to push the energy-efficient message (coupled with some well-positioned brand placement) to consumers using a relevant medium and entry point at a moment when they would be most open to it, ‘so it connects,’ says Law. Catch a glimpse of a sports therapist talking about the heat pack ThermaCare while you were strolling through your local Wal-Mart? Or the Old Spice Red Zone’s After Hours events at dance clubs? If so, the brand manager behind that P&G product was targeting you.

‘Whoever’s calling the shots at Procter…really seems to have bought into the new-age model of management,’ says Ken Wong, professor of marketing at Kingston, Ont.-based Queen’s University. One that, for example, recognizes that the company doesn’t have to ‘own’ everything, and encourages partnerships (much like with the utility companies) that make sense in today’s splintered media landscape. ‘[This] is very different from the old Procter.’

‘The bottom line is that the king…is back,’ Wong says of the company’s current success, which, he adds, began about four years ago with a renewed focus on innovation that spawned such products as Swiffer and Febreze.