Emotional advertising can work wonderfully, this won’t – P&G’s thank you mom Winter Olympics campaign.

A highly emotional, Winter Olympics themed ad from P&G is a waste of resources.

Multibrand ads such as this don’t work.

The main brand being advertised is a corporate one – P&G – that consumers don’t have the option to buy.

Procter’s Winter Olympics campaign has received great reviews () and this highly emotional ad from Wieden + Kennedy is really very nice but will it sell more product? …… No!

As the Sochi Winter Olympics begins (the opening ceremony is on as I write this) there is quite a bit of buzz amongst the marketing community about this campaign. But – assuming Procter are looking for a bottom line impact to what is surely a massive spend – you gotta ask if they are going to sell more of their products as a result of all this work.

Confused consumers
I say that this won’t work as I believe this kind of thing confuses consumers and creates barriers to purchase. This happens in 2 ways.

1. What brand is being advertised?
This type of thing – an initiative that links multiple brands under a common theme based on marketing as opposed to product innovation designed to bring news on the cheap – is what Procter call a Multi-Brand-Commercial-Innovation (MBCI). MBCI’s on the whole, don’t work.

They don’t work because they invariably tie a group of unrelated brands together in a way that the consumer cannot understand or even register. After watching a necessarily elaborate piece of advertising with a tenuous link to multiple brands consumers cannot name the brands involved. This happens for 2 reasons 1. the link is too tenuous & 2. there are too many brands to take in under one message. As a result the initiative doesn’t drive purchase and ….. fails.

2. It’s the wrong brand.
This campaign is advertising a brand – P&G – that no one can buy. Yes, you can find other brands in the copy somewhere but as said above consumers don’t register them. Consumers who already have a relationship with e.g. Pampers, are faced with having to build a new relationship with a new brand BEFORE they get to the purchase decision. The campaign creates a barrier to purchase.

Simplicity
How often do we hear about simplicity being the key to good communication – and they hear it plenty at Procter – and yet we keep seeing this kind of thing?

The ad
Look, it’s a great film, enjoy it, be entertained by it and if you work for a sporting goods brand ;) maybe even copy it. But it has no place in the marketing plans of the likes of P&G.

Display
There is one possible benefit to MBCIs that can drive sales – instore display. For me incremental display should be the only reason for running these events. Retailers will give display behind a compelling theme and for the Winter Olympics this is probably true in some countries. However, retailers often demand that the themed events are unique to them and won’t take something as broad scale as this. Moreover this display has to be paid for incrementally. Could Procter gain display in a cheaper way? Certainly, witness what they did when they own Pringles. Does Procter need to go to these lengths to get display? Certainly not.

Tail wags dog
This is bad strategy, Procter have moved resources from building their consumer brands to building a corporate one. A corporate brand that consumers have no familiarity with or need for. The whole idea – if I remember correctly – came from a questionably successful MBCI in Brazil. That one example was used to fundamentally change the marketing strategy of the world’s biggest advertiser and goes against the idea of brand management that they are so proud of inventing. The idea was the brainchild of the recently departed CEO Bob MacDonald and now that he is gone I can’t believe his replacement AG Lafley will continue with it.

This is a strategic route that is also taken to a greater or lesser extent by both Nestle and Unilever that I believe is a complete wast of marketing money…. just to get off the fence about it.

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