Once in too-great a while (if the mega-money spent on creating television advertising is considered) a brand message comes along that deserves high praise. As brand communication researchers, ads worthy of glory, to our minds, are those that do the job advertising is actually hired to do: both get noticed, and – crass as this may sound – move the viewer to give the advertiser priority when it comes to choosing a brand. That's why advertising is harder than simply making entertainment, and why P&G's effort for Mother's Day deserves this public shout out.
Since BMW blew the tires off the branded entertainment vehicle with their mini-movies, brands have been trying to use longer-format pieces to tell their story, trying to access the emotion they know builds brand meaning – and loyalty. Yet, what seems to happen far too often is one of two things: the message is a mini-movie that is disconnected from the brand and its strategy, or the product placement is so heavy-handed that viewers click out with a long audible sigh.
Whatever team created the "P&G London 2012 Olympic Games" spot did a masterful job at tapping into not just one but two powerful constructs – mothers and triumph – and weaving the story around what P&G actually sells: household products. Don't think it can be done? Take a look, but spoiler alert – keep the Puffs tissues handy.
It took a deft hand to tell this story without turning it into a product placement vehicle. The film needs close study to even find the products in the background. Many have tried this; few have chosen to restrain themselves from those package close-ups. Congratulations, P&G.
This ad may never make it to television, nor be intended for that platform. Already it circulates around the digital world. Cutting it down to a :30 would be an Olympian's task. Somehow, we think this team would be up to it.