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.

1920: Soap Opera. 2008: Soap Box.

18 07 2008

Way back when wireless telegraphy (aka “radio”) was the height of exotic new media, Procter & Gamble jumped on the opportunity.

P&G began sponsoring radio dramas, which became known as “soap operas”.

Could the soap box — the writings of “mommy bloggers” become just as important?

A few days ago, NBCU invested $5 million in BlogHer. And you really know something’s up when no less than 50 brands offer swag at the BlogHer pre-party at Guy Kawasaki‘s house. There’s a great post today from the always interesting Jeremiah Owyang about the economics of Mommy Bloggers and future ad opportunities. Happy reading, and enjoy the weekend.

UPDATE: Good CNET article here about how events like Blogher are becoming more “Main Street” and less “Sand Hill Road”

Photo Credit: Cambodia4KidsOrg’s Photostream