Proctor and risky gamble

For the second year, Procter and Gamble is running a Mother’s Day themed advert.

The concept behind the advert is pretty good – focusing on mothers by, not focusing on the mum. The mum is always in the background, quietly supporting her children. It’s a simple idea, and probably one that many people can relate to.

The messages between each photo are emotive, but can apply to fairly universally. The photos show scenes that are typical of childhood and by not showing the mother’s face, they become both generic and familiar.

Where it falls down is the tagline – “Proud sponsor of Mums”. This line irritates me. P&G represent many brands including Fairy, Pampers, Pringles, Pantene, Olay and Head & Shoulders. They’re brands that mums will probably be familiar with but the idea that P&G somehow sponsors mums is frankly offensive. If anything, the opposite is true – mums through their purchases sponsor P&G. Football clubs don’t buy items from their sponsors, they take a payment in return for advertising. Firms often pay significant sums of money in return for the support of an opinion leader. P&G makes significant revenues from its target audience.

Proctor & Gamble owns some of the biggest consumer and has a huge advertising budget (estimates vary from £189m to £204m in 2010). This is the first time it is advertising under its own brand rather than the individual product brands, and is intended to boost sales across all of them. In order to do this, it’s going to have to win the trust of mums, and gain their collective trust in all of the brands. Conversely, it risks putting all its eggs in one basket if any one of those brands fails.

This doesn’t work for me. It’s too saccharine and the sponsorship message puts me off. My loyalty to the brands it represents isn’t strong enough to prevent me switching to alternatives. If P&G is going to continue this approach, it needs to manage its advertising choices extremely carefully.


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