How To Do A CPG Launch Without TV

12 09 2008

Karl Greenberg reports in yesterday’s Media Post that Procter & Gamble will be launching the new Oral-B Pulsonic toothbrush entirely through digital, PR, events, print and in-store. They’re giving TV the toothbrush-off: it’s not part of the launch at all.

It’s not a typical P&G move, but I think it’s very smart. Here’s why:

  • Real News Means Real PR. We all think we have revolutionary products, but in reality the media has seen most of them before. Oral-B has genuine news. In 2002, Ries and Ries argued in “The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR“, that giant brands like Palm, Starbucks, the Body Shop, Wal-Mart, Red Bull and Zara have been built with virtually no advertising at all. These brands didn’t have ads, but they did have a different story to tell.
  • In The Mommy Blogger Sweet Spot. This has a beauty story (whitens teeth in two weeks) AND a healthy kids story (a toothbrush kids will want to use). Plus, it’s a very high-value trial item.
    The only way this could be more suited to the blogosphere would be if it was a Mac-branded tech product that let ugly teenage boys instantly date supermodels.
  • Bigger Cash Register Rings = More Patient Retailers. Normally, you need TV at launch because the trade has no patience for a slow build. But when your suggested retail is $70, you don’t need a whole lot of velocity to make it worth the retailer’s while.

Don’t be surprised if the “TV is dead” crowd online trumpets this as incontrovertible proof that digital has at last killed TV once and for all. But, don’t believe the hype either.

This is the most traditional thing you can imagine: P&G being a smart marketer.

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