P&G boosts digital skills

12 March 2012

CINCINNATI: Procter & Gamble, the consumer goods giant, is strengthening its "quest" to leverage digital tools for both in-house operations and for its marketing campaigns.

In reflection of its growing ambitions in this space, the maker of Crest and Tide recently held a "summit" attended by leading executives from firms like Amazon, Facebook, Google and Twitter.

Ilonka Laviz, P&G's digital marketing director, argued such an event demonstrated the organisation's "quest of fully digitising the company inside and in the way we go to market."

The speed at which P&G is trying to work was recently proved by a 15-second spot for Tide, created in 24 hours and showing the detergent cleaning fuel off a racetrack, after a similar event at the Daytona 500. It quickly secured 2.7m "likes" on YouTube.

"Digital marketing is past. Brand building in a digital world is here," Marc Pritchard, global marketing and brand building officer at P&G, said. "We need to harness the power of that creative energy."

Pritchard added that the company was "open for business" concerning digital strategy, as the old idea of "the P&G way" has to change. "You're not going to get your head cut off for trying things," he said.

Bob McDonald, Procter & Gamble's CEO, added that embracing new technologies in this area was key. "As a brand builder, you have to take advantage of that," he said. "You can't be mired in this plan you put together in the Kremlin."

"I feel like we're in the early innings," he continued. "It took us some time to get the right leaders in place."

P&G was one of the first firms to utilise "sponsored tweets" on Twitter, the microblog, and also employed "promoted tweets" for Old Spice's "Smell Like a Man, Man" wildly successful viral campaign.

For Dick Cotolo, Twitter's CEO, this was an encouraging sign about the social networking site's own prospects: "Our revenues are the last thing I worry about. The business is growing exceptionally well."

Data also showed that an ad for a $10 money-off deal for Crest Whitestrips run on Amazon last year yielded a 26% increase in sales from this specific website, and led to a 9% increase in offline purchases.

"Think about that promotion," Lisa Utzschneider, Amazon's global VP, advertising sales, said. "It's 10% off on Amazon. You can't redeem that off of Amazon. Yet customers responded to this message, and we love the ROI we saw offline."

Data sourced from AdAge/Cincinnati.com; additional content by Warc staff