Procter & Gamble's Pritchard 'Likes' Facebook! (And Knows a Great Idea When He Sees One)

News Flash: Facebook marketing works!

Just ask Marc Pritchard, Procter & Gamble’s global brand building officer (love the title!), who just told a rival publication that Facebook (and Yahoo) were “fundamental” in an interview about the company’s ubiquitous “Thank You, Mom” Olympic campaign.

Indeed, P&G’s tactical approach to this effort is worth reading about. The company launched some of its content all the way back in mid-April, it did -- oh, the synergy! -- Interesting iterations of what Pritchard says was a strategy to create “a perfect storm” surrounding the campaign. Describing a marketing moment during a Misty May-Treanor/Kerri Walsh beach volleyball match, the story explains: “NBC aired a ‘Thank you, Mom’ segment where Ms. Walsh praised her mother, which was followed by an ad from Pampers (Ms. Walsh's sponsor) and then a P&G ad. Meanwhile, Facebook posts and tweets were being fired out to cheer them on.”

Nifty execution, eh?

But wait, there’s more! This effort to use the Olympics as a marketing platform -- Pritchard says P&G could realize $500 million in sales from it -- would be nothing without a strong idea executed with boatloads of relevant content, no matter how good P&G’s tactical skills are.



Yes, even when all these tools are available, ideas count. Part of the beauty of “Thank You, Mom” is its resonance. Every mom can relate to those moms of Olympians in the stands, be it because they’ve also spent hours upon hours in windowless, chlorine-saturated rooms all for a 30-second swim race, had their car reek from the sweat of pubescent soccer players, or, in a variant on parental sacrifice, indulged their son’s fascination with reptiles by allowing a dozen snakes live alongside the humans in the family abode. (See: my mom.)

When you see those moms, you know some of what they went through – not to mention that it’s refreshing to see moms revered the way that they so often aren’t.

The campaign is also highly aspirational. Don’t all of us sometimes entertain the fantasy of being Debbie Phelps, mother of the greatest Olympian ever? (And, no, not just because of the sponsorship dollars.)

But, back to Facebook. A while back, before former CMO Joel Ewanick parted ways with General Motors -- but after he decided GM wouldn’t part with any more money on Facebook -- I couldn’t help but wonder if one reason GM didn’t like Facebook is that it didn’t have strong enough content to support its investment. Yes, that is speculation, but, presumably, if its ads on Facebook were doing so wonderfully, it would have found money to spend there. Allegedly, the brouhaha busted out because GM wanted to do something big, and splashy –- which Facebook wouldn’t permit – but big and splashy doesn’t equal resonant.

The challenge is that tools like Facebook’s Reach Generator – and big, splashy ads -- are just tactics to get a message out in front of an audience; the only ways that paid media social tactics end up being worth more than the initial investment are through engagement and social distribution. I by no means have a window into everything P&G has done with this campaign, but I do know this: the domestic “Thank You, Mom” page -- one of 29 country-specific “Thank You, Mom” pages -- has 750,000 “Likes.” Perhaps more importantly, as of this afternoon, more than 300,000 people were listed on the U.S. page as “talking about this.

So, to conclude, Facebook marketing works. The problem is, when it does, it’s not just about the reach of the platform.

2 comments about "Procter & Gamble's Pritchard 'Likes' Facebook! (And Knows a Great Idea When He Sees One) ".
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  1. Mark severini from AdTheorent, August 9, 2012 at 5 p.m.


    Great article: big bold ideas are always behind marketing success stories. Yes the tactics have to be executed flawlessly and with FaceBook there is no "instructional" manual but obviously P&G got it right ..and yes great content is needed to drive these social engagement campaigns....

  2. Ted Rubin from The Rubin Organization / Return on Relationship, August 9, 2012 at 11:09 p.m.

    Great post Catharine. You point out the most important part of marketing, engaging, building awareness, whatever, via Facebook or any other platform... it is about how you use it, what idea you execute, and how you engage and connect with the consumer... it is NOT simply about the platform.

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