Changing Tides: P&G Returns To Super Bowl

Add Procter & Gamble to the list of advertisers in the Super Bowl. After running its first spot in 2004, it sat on the sidelines. Now, the company is making a return to promote one of its legacy brands--Tide--with a 30-second spot, multiple sources said.

In 2004, P&G debuted in the Super Bowl with a spot for Charmin. It came after the company launched an internal competition among its agencies to develop the most compelling spot for the game. Charmin's football-themed effort scored.

While P&G took a pass on the game over the next three years, it did run spots in 2006 for Gillette. That decision came just a few months after P&G acquired the razor giant and the planning and buying likely had already taken place under the previous management.

Fox and P&G declined comment regarding this year's game.

It's likely that P&G paid significantly below the bandied-about $2.7 million average per spot this year, due to the heavy load of media it buys and long-time support of networks such as Fox. Broadcasters tend to reward consistency with below-market pricing. P&G is the country's leading advertiser, and uses Saatchi & Saatchi for its Tide account.

Industry observers have marveled at the swift pace with which Fox has nearly sold out the Super Bowl so far in advance of the February kickoff. The network has about 32 minutes of advertising to sell in the game, divided between 30- and 60-second spots.

As P&G--with long-time agency Mediavest--has shifted dollars to the Internet and other new-media opportunities, its gambit on the Big Game looks to be a validation of just how much marketers value the Super Bowl platform.

Still, there is a digital element to all Fox Super Bowl spots, as the network is offering marketers the opportunity to house their spots for repeat viewing on popular corporate sibling MySpace.com. Marketers will be able to use the platform to link to their own Web sites for a contest or other promotion--as well as various creative maneuvers.

The 60-year-old Tide, a growing performer at P&G, held an event in New Orleans this week to celebrate its efforts helping to rebuild 10 homes for families impacted by Hurricane Katrina.

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