Back From Bombay

12 05 2009

Just flew back yesterday from a trip to Bombay (OK, today it’s actually Mumbai but what writer can resist alliteration in a headline?)

My first visit to India, and hopefully not my last. I shot this out the window of my car.


On the flight to Mumbai. I read Robyn Meredith’s excellent “The Elephant and the Dragon: The Rise of India and China and What It Means for All of Us“. Highly recommended.

Here’s what I’ve been reading since I got back.

Is Cheerios a Drug?

Smart cause-related marketing from P&G and Pampers

BlogHer Releases Second Annual Women and Social Media Survey

Tyson Chicken and Social Media

Nielsen on CPG Trends For The Next Decade

You can see the rest of my Mumbai photos here, if you’re curious.

Tide Loads of Hope: P&G Digital Hack Night Executive Summary

12 03 2009


Here’s an executive summary and link roundup for the Procter & Gamble Digital Hack Night that happened last night.

Disclosure: I don’t work for P&G (I work for another CPG company, Combe). My interest istide-loads-of-hope purely in learning how other CPG companies are using social media. Also, it’s a good cause: I bought a couple of t-shirts to support it.

Click on the links above each quoted item to go to that person’s website.

Ad Age:

Procter & Gamble Co. paired 40 digital media and agency executives with 100 of its North American marketing directors in a contest to sell Tide T-shirts for charity last night as its much-awaited “Digital Hack Night” became a four-hour reality show aired largely in social media. (…) Fewer than 150 media and marketing people leaning heavily on their social-media friends and followers, resorting to big-name incentives and spending a total of about $4,000 on digital media can sell more than 2,000 T-shirts at $20 a pop for charity.”

Jory DesJardins:

“So despite what I do for a living–work with companies to share the benefits of social media–I haven’t ever been asked to pitch product, or prove via my own means that social media gets stuff done. Until today.”

Shar VanBoskirk:

“I’m admittedly the most cynical analyst about social media and its measurable value to marketers. BUT, participating in this event is making me a believer. In 60 minutes through networking, well targeted ads, SMS messaging, and viral videos we have generated 1200 hits for a site that didn’t even exist before 5pm tonight. We are tracking at about a 5-7% conversion rate…not bad. The other thing that is happening here is that we are adapting our marketing strategy based on feedback from people who are responding to our viral outreach. How often does that happen in a traditional marketing environment?”

Kevin Dugan:

“The teams that broke their groups down into smaller groups around specific strategies were able to test more ideas more easily and quickly, focus on the ones that did work and drop the ones that did not gain traction. (…) There was an amazing dashboard in every room that listed sales, site visits and conversion rate for each team with a Tide Twitter Feed running beneath this information.”

David Armano:

“As the doors opened to our War room, the first thing I did was crack open the laptop and continue prepping my network while I sized up the challenge. P&G employees were embeded with every team and watching everything we did. I first summized that there was not enough information on the page where we were asking for people to buy shirts and so I quickly started writing a blog post with the information of who the charity was, where you could buy the shirts along with some popular Q&As. The post was done in less than 20 minutes to the surprise of some of the P&Gers and I didn’t use the media they provided because the files needed reformatting. A big lesson learned was the power of speed in this space. 4 hours is not a lot of time.”


Peter Kim:

“At the end of the evening, P&G’s CMO Marc Pritchard remarked that in the future, all employees should get involved in activating connections similar to what had just been witnessed.

The significance of that idea is staggeringly huge. This is a company with 138,000 employees starting to realize the value from having all of its constituents connected and activated. They’re also learning about new tools to change the process of engagement. Events like “Digital Night” help recalibrate the company’s mindset.

P&G is taking steps to make social business a reality.”

Speaking of Peter Kim, I should acknowledge that to create this executive summary I cribbed liberally from his list of links on his blog, here. Nobody does link roundups better than Peter.

Lisa Bradner of Forrester:

“Marketers looking to access people’s personal social networks must think long and hard about what they’re asking those networks to do and whether the influencers have social currency they can provide ( a great cause, a great deal, or insider knowledge). Without that your effort is likely to feel like shilling and get very little pick up.

Personal networks trump paid placements. (…) cultivating deep relationships with key influencers will reap greater rewards than spray and pray. Don’t simply put out a message hoping it will get pick up: identify the key players in your market place and the value your product or service brings to their readers.. (…) Can’t identify your value-add? You’re probably not going to get very far.

Social media is a full time commitment. (…) those of us for whom social isn’t our sole focus were left in the dust by those who do it for a living. (…) don’t think you’re going to make an impact asking your current digital marketing manager to add Twittering and blogging to their current job description. Figure out what your role should be in the social media space and staff with people knowledgeable and connected who thrive on contributing to and participating in that space.

Suspicion runs rampant. (…) Anyone who thinks corporate America is welcome at the social party hasn’t been paying a lot of attention. Corporate messages and their bearers are viewed with suspicion and in some cases, derision. Overcoming it takes patience, information and most importantly truly good intentions at the root of your efforts.

You can’t please all the people all the time. (…) Take time to plan for worst case scenarios: how could your intentions be misconstrued and how and when do you respond? Accept that you will never be welcomed by all but with a good faith effort, honesty, transparency and a long term commitment you can at least get a chance to tell your side of the story.”

Deborah Schultz of P&G

“Here are some of my quick learning take a ways:

  • Many of the P&G folks’ thought the first task was to figure out the messaging of the campaign, where as the external folks just dived right in in plain English.
  • The social web folks jumped on their networks first without necessary realizing the impact and focused on a long tail one-to-one approach figuring that network effects would take over.
  • The P&G folks understood the need to identify where to get the biggest bang for their buck.
  • The speed nature of the exercise brought out some incredible creativity. I had a sense that this freedom was very liberating for the P&G folks once they got into it. Some of my teammates quickly brainstormed a quick rap [yeah-it’s dorky, but they did it without planning or thinking about it too much. We even got the team at Pandora to write a catchy little ditty. [Thanks Tim. It arrived a bit late, but kudos to them for jumping in. Compare that to the month long planning cycles most companies go through.
  • The P&G folks were often very process oriented and the invitees where comfortable with more chaos – meeting somewhere in the middle brought out the best.
  • Even the “digerati” who understand the principles of the social web stepped over the line a bit in the exuberance of the moment – to me this is a cautionary tale about the future of “influencers” and everyone’s personal understanding of their relationships, networks and personal brand. Just as in the real world you are judged by your actions – so too are you judged online. Remember – Google is now the long tail of reputation.
  • The need for a different set of skills and expertise – teams needed a human connector to bring it all together and a catalyst to kick it off. I see this as a growing skill set in business as a result of the social web. Think Community Manager meets Senior Executive.”

Dave Knox of P&G

“The P&G Digital Event was an internal training exercise for 100 or so of our senior marketing leaders. We wanted to create a hands-on event for them to see first-hand what Social Media is all about (…) beyond buzzwords and shiny objects like Twitter, the Long Tail, or CGM.We hoped to see our leaders come away with several realizations but a couple I’ll mention relevant to my comments include:

  1. Social Media is mainstream. Facebook, Twitter, etc aren’t just for college kids or geeks. It is being used by the young and old, by the geeks and the Soccer Moms (or Mommy Bloggers) alike.
  2. But despite being mainstream, it’s not one size fits all and you need to build trust to have a conversation.
  3. And with all that said, the first step is listening in social media.

It is the last point I really want to speak to. As I’ve followed the conversation, it looks like some have thought we were “having a one night stand” with Social Media. That isn’t the case at all. There are many P&Gers that are active in Social Media – as well as many of our brands. We wanted the event to help support those that aren’t as active see first hand that you have to be wired differently than traditional marketing efforts to be successful in the space.

Every P&G marketer involved woke up the next morning having seen firsthand a world that is different than the world they know and that digital is having an impact on people’s lives in new ways.”

For a sense of what it was like while it was happening, check out this Twitter feed.

Dissenting Opinions

Brian Morrissey of Adweek:

“The problem is charities are being used to get people over the ickiness of marketing for gigantic corporations. (…) even as a marketing exercise, the lessons it is teaching the world’s largest advertiser is social media is a great place to broadcast stuff.”

Tom Foremski (Former FT Journalist)

“It’s like the hackers that create botnets of thousands of infected PCs and then use them to broadcast millions of spam messages. Can you create a human botnet army? Or a Twitnet army?”

While I generally think this was a great idea, I’ll add two dissenting questions of my own:

  1. If all these social media micro-celebrities combined were only able to sell about $4,000 worth of merchandise for a great cause from a huge brand, what does that say about the “power” of social media?
  2. If we define the Tide event as a marketing success (and not just a learning success), how can it be replicated and built on

Nick Paris echoed these questions in his comments on Brian Morrissey’s blog:

“150 determined salespeople sold 2000 shirts in four hours? That’s 13 each. I’ve seen better results from bake sales. (…) It’s great P&G wants to help employees understand. But, as a learning exercise, you put 40 invitees into crisis mode to sell T-shirts for four hours? Is frenzied Tweeting the behavior you want to impress on clients as how you work for them?”

Social Media Link Roundup: Unilever, Kraft, P&G and Obama

26 01 2009

Monday links to explore:
Babs Rangaiah of Unilever: Video From Monaco Media Forum Video

Marketers Should Be In Charge Of Social Media
Today’s Ad Age asks “Who in corporate America owns the consumer relationship, the customer experience, word-of-mouth or social media? The answer appears to be nobody.”

A BlogHer Mommy Blogger’s Visit to P&G

2009 Web Predictions
Lots here about Twitter, Facebook, Google, Yahoo

Brand Obama, Social Media and Lessons Learned
Good article from Jason Heller

If Dilbert Worked In Advertising
Funny because it’s true.

Kraft Apple iPhone App: iFood, the Video
Useful 3 minute video overview of the Kraft app here. By the way, Kraft iFood also works on the iPod Touch.

Kraft Apple iPhone App: iFood (Screenshots)
And good screen shots here.

Can Social Media Scale For CPG After All?

9 01 2009

Ripple6 has a very good 11-part series of blog posts about social media and communities including video with Susan Ross of P&G.

It’s clear that both Susan and P&G have a strong understanding of this subject. I’m impressed.

modomatic1I’m intrigued by the Ripple 6 notion of “cloud communities”. Think of it as an RSS feed (aka syndicated content) to multiple communities all at the same time. What’s neat is that you can also select which communities get a piece of information — if a marketer exercises intelligent restraint, this enables them to participate in each community effectively.

It’s the most promising approach I’ve seen yet for getting social media efforts for CPG companies to scale effectively.

The series starts here. The page with P&G’s approach to Social Media starts here.

I’d love to hear comments from anybody who has worked with Ripple6. Anybody?

Photo Credit: Modomatic. Thanks to Creative Commons!

Are You In-The-Flow, Or In-The-Way?

18 11 2008

Three days ago, P&G GM Interactive Marketing and Innovation Ted McConnell said “I’d really rather not buy any more banner ads on Facebook.” Why?

“Consumers weren’t trying to generate media. They were trying to talk to somebody.”

I’ve seen Ted speak a number of times at conferences, and he’s a very smart guy.

For me, he hits the nail on the head when he talks about what consumers are “trying to do”


Are You In-The-Flow? Or In-The-Way?

Repeat after me: user intent matters.

One reason TV performs so well is that because people turn to it looking for entertainment. As a user, I’ll give my attention to whatever entertains me. If what happens to entertain me is an ad, that’s OK.

Why? It’s part of what I’m doing.

View Vs. Do

A challenge for Facebook is that people are often trying to do something. Every user knows from experience that the “in-the-flow” stuff is in the middle of the page, and the “in-the-way” stuff (the ads) is at the periphery.

Guess where users focus their attention.

I’m not saying Facebook ads are a bad idea. The targeting is really good. And, some users are on there just farting around — if we’re smart and what they’re “doing” isn’t really important, we can get their attention. Besides, if they’re on Facebook and not on TV, it really doesn’t matter how great TV is at selling: we have to be where our consumers are.

What matters about what Ted said is that you are ALWAYS better off being in-the-flow (e.g. a branded app that helps you do something) rather than in-the-way.

It’s not just about where the eyeballs are. It’s about where the attention is.

Dolce&Gabanna, Meet Procter&Gamble: The Interview

18 09 2008

How P&G went to market in the 1950s:

Television, television, television.

A sprightly jingle, complete with a string section straight out of the Donna Reed show.

And a Disney-esque voiceover intoning, “Clean and bright as the sun on the sand”.

And, this is how P&G launches a new product today.

Where’s the TV campaign? Where’s the jingle? Why are bloggers involved? And what, in the name of all that’s traditional and stodgy in Cincinnati, do the Kardashian sisters have to do with all this?

Well, maybe a runway launch isn’t a bad idea for a product that’s tall, skinny, and curvy in all the right places.

Alissa Hammond of Procter & Gamble agreed to be interviewed for iCPG about the launch. Here’s what we talked about.

Tom: Who’s the ideal target for this product?

Alissa: Our target is the consumer who is concerned not only with performance, but also design. They want a power toothbrush that fits the aesthetics of their bathroom and is slim and sleek, but still offers the functional cleaning and whitening benefits of an Oral-B rechargeable toothbrush.

Tom: It’s interesting that P&G chose to launch with no TV support at all. What was the rationale? How did management react? How did retailers react?

Alissa: The rationale is based on the insights we have about our consumer. Because the product is unique and appeals to a new consumer group, we wanted to reach them when they are most receptive to hearing about our product and connect our brand to things they are already engaged in, such as design, fashion and beauty. We know our consumer target is engaged and passionate about bloggers, magazine editors, interior designers, and fashion and design events.

We saw a great opportunity to reach bloggers, media and some of our consumers directly at New York Fashion Week in early September. We partnered with Style360 to launch the Pulsonic on the runway. The toothbrush accessorized upscale loungewear clothing from Dash and Smooch, which are boutiques owned by the Kardashian sisters. Also on site at the Style360 events was the Pulsonic-inspired “Ultimate Fashionista’s Bathroom,” designed by Pulsonic-spokesperson Michael Moloney, interior designer for ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Michael was onsite during the multi-day event to describe his inspiration for the bathroom design, as well as talk about the great benefits of the Pulsonic and why he recommends having it in your bathroom.

Tom: I’ve seen web banners for Pulsonic on MP3 download pages, and prominent paid search ads on Google, Yahoo and MSN. Are any banners behaviorally targeted?

Alissa: Knowing that the consumer is interested in design, fashion and beauty, we are able to provide our key messaging on the sites where the consumer spends much of their time online. We also utilize paid search via the major portals and integrate our message and banner advertising in contextually relevant sites.

Tom: Are you doing other digital advertising besides banners and paid search?

Alissa: Yes. We have been promoting the Pulsonic in various P&G newsletters that go out to consumers. We also utilized promotions and advertising through key eRetailers such as Amazon and Drugstore, and the Pulsonic was available for preorder on these sites prior to national launch.

Tom: What role will bloggers play in this launch? How did you reach out to the bloggers? Which company(s) did you use, and why?

Alissa: The unique characteristics of the consumer, specifically where they go to get new product information and suggestions, changes where we normally place our marketing focus. Our insight into the Pulsonic consumer target tells us that bloggers play an extremely important role in influencing her. We are extensively contacting and sampling the Pulsonic to bloggers and even gave one blogger backstage access to the Style360 events during Fashion Week so she could have an exclusive look at how the Pulsonic tied into the events. Our Public Relations agency reached out to bloggers and established relationships with them to spread the word about the Pulsonic.

Tom: Besides this, what role — if any — do you see for social media as you move forward

Alissa: Social media will continue to be an important part of our strategy when our consumer insights show he or she is influenced by social media.

Tom: How will you measure the success of your digital efforts?

Alissa: We measure ROI (return on investment) through our Marketing Mix Modeling and also have quantitative measures that we use along the way to measure our success.

Thanks, Alissa, for the interview.

For more observations on the Pulsonic launch, click here.

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.