P&G has become really good at Emotional Advertising

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

6mkd49.pngIn my generation, it was usually pretty easy to spot a P&G marketer. They are the type that has “the” answer. The “P&G way” used to be: find something (almost anything) that you’re better at than your competitor and then make the most of it, by showing a side-by-side demonstration, naming the “next leading brand” and quite possibly add some blue liquid to the TV ad.  P&G managed to exploit this execution through most of the 1970s and 1980s.  Don’t get me wrong: I’ve always respected P&G for what it is. They did a good job for decades using that same trusted formula.  They just stuck to the same formula a bit too long, and it caught up to them by the mid-to-late 1990s.


Here’s a great example of the classic 1970s P&G advertising looked like, including the famous blue liquid.


But by 2000, the P&G formula seemed worn out they suddenly appeared to hit a brick wall. Growth dried up, several key brands lost their leadership of the market to rivals, and new product launches proved disappointing or even to be downright failures. Competitor products had caught up, and in some cases surpassed them. Colgate was beating Crest, Listerine was beating Scope, Finish was beating Cascade, Dove was beating Ivory and others were catching up or passing the trusted P&G brands., the stock price fell dramatically from $120 to $85 almost over night. A consumer driven brand mainly has 3 weapons: 1) new products 2) communication and 3) go-to-market execution through retailers. P&G stepped up on innovation and even acquisition to bolster the product roster.  And they have made a dramatic change in how they communicate with their consumers,. They also found that the same Advertising formula wasn’t working anymore.

Strategically, brands really have four choices:  

  • Better
  • Different
  • Cheaper
  • Not around for very long

But in the current crowded Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) world, “Better” has become increasingly difficult. Every category is so cluttered, everyone has copied every non-patented product feature, claims are getting even harder to gain separation from competitors.  We are into the world of incremental-ization of fast acting tabs, quick dissolving strips or ultra powders.  Yawn. More and more, what is winning is different.  The brand that taught all of the CPG marketers a vital lesson is Dove, with “real beauty” demonstrating that different is a powerful way to connect.  

At the base of P&G’s communication is the strategic shift from always being “better” to now being “different”. Instead of looking at unique feature differences to build the benefits around, P&G is now looking at unique consumer insights that will help them connect with consumers. The ads have shifted from pure product demos to finding moments within the consumer’s life. Also, P&G has a new respect for the power of Advertising–even sending people to the Cannes awards.  Yes, Unilever has been doing this type of work across their brands for decades now, with the most inspiring CPG brand being the work on Dove.  


Here’s a few P&G spots that have really captured the emotional marketing.

I thought P&G did a very nice job at the 2012 Olympics, the one sponsor that seemed to jump out. “Thank You Moms” showed everything that moms did for their athletes, and just as Mom is an enabler, so is P&G to the Moms. I’m sure quite a few moms were shedding a few tears over this one.



The second P&G ad spoke to the idea that “they’ll always be kids” and it showed the athletes depicted as little children.



With Old Spice, it was a dead brand.  It was so old that P&G had liberty to completely re-invent the brand.  And this campaign just jumped off the screen a few years ago.  (it’s a bit worn out now)


To me the symbolic P&G unemotional brands that P&G has is Tide and if you watch this Ad for “stay at home dads” you would never know it’s a cold brand.

Some good lessons for other brands to learn.

  • Focus on different where you can’t win on better.
  • Instead of product features, move to consumer insights
  • Story telling and Moments connect more with your consumers than claims and demos.  

You’re doing a Great job P&G connecting with consumers. Now it’s time for your competitors to catch up.  

Here’s an article that goes a little deeper on the ABC’S: How to Judge Advertising Copy: Approve the Good. Reject the Bad.

To see a training presentation on Get Better Advertising:



Who the Heck is P&G?

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

For about 150 years, the name P&G was in the far background, nowhere to be seen. The only people who knew the name P&G were business people, new business school grads and retail buyers. Consumers never knew that a lot of the brands they loved and used every day–Tide, Crest, Pampers, Downy–all came from the same company. P&G definitely used the House of Brands to the best of their abilities. And yet, in the lasts two years, we are seeing a shift to a hybrid approach between the House of Brands and the Branded House. Both P&G and Unilever have begun ending each TV ad with a little sign off from the corporate brand name. Part of the rational for P&G is they believe that having the corporate brand name will help the weaker brands in the portfolio, giving consumers some added re-assurance that the brand comes from the same great company that makes so many of their favourites. The issue with that logic is won’t the very healthy brands be held back, having two brand names at the end of ads? It might be especially true for a brand like Gillette where it’s already very healthy and seen as its own company. If I was in charge of the Gillette brand, I might be asking “does this make sense?”

For the last few decades of the 20th century, P&G advertising was relying so heavily on the side-by-side demonstrations that all the ads started to all look the same whether it was Tide, Downy, Mr Clean or Crest. Extremely non-emotional.

I hope everyone understands that for a guy like me, who believes that creating love for your brand makes your brand more powerful and in turn more valuable that it would make sense that while I have always respected P&G, I just have never really loved or admired them. I was more of a fan of Unilever work, especially Dove’s “real beauty” campaign. Then all of a sudden, the light went on with the Pampers “Forever Young” TV ad. At first, I was stunned it was a P&G commercial. Hats off to whoever got it approved.

Then I started to notice more and more attempts by P&G to get emotional in their work. Even the emotionless brand leader Tide was trying to be emotional. Not yet fully successful, but an A for effort, on a very difficult brand to be emotional. It looks like P&G gets it and in a big way is starting to make a difference.

With the 2012 Olympic Games, I have to fully confess that the one brand that jumps out is P&G. I saw them announce to a room of Moms of the Olympic Athletes that they were sending them to the opening ceremonies and there were tears everywhere. And they have done one of the best TV ads, appropriately titled “Best Jobs” where it showcases how hard Moms work to get their athletes to the games. As P&G makes the move to a hybrid approach to a master brand, this is an amazing start. I love this ad.

And they are trying very hard to link each of their brands into the Olympics.

  • Gillette – “A Great Start Every Day” campaign featuring Swiss tennis player Roger Federer, British cyclist Sir Chris Hoy, Chinese Badminton player Lin Dan, Brazilian swimmer Felipe Franca, and American swimmer Ryan Lochte
  • Ariel & Tide – “Proud Keeper of Your Country’s Colours” campaign featuring Turkish runner Nevin Yanit and Mexican pentathlete Oscar Soto
  • Pampers – “Celebrating Babies’ Unique Spirit of Play” campaign featuring U.S. beach volleyball player Kerri Walsh Jennings and British marathoner Paula Radcliffe
  • Pantene – “Keep Shining” campaign featuring Argentine tennis player Gisela Dulko, Mexican diver Paola Espinosa, and American swimmer Natalie Coughlin
  • Head & Shoulders – “Wash in Confidence” featuring American swimmer Michael Phelps and French handball player Nikola Karabatic

Way to go P&G, whoever the heck P&G is.

About Graham Robertson: I’m a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands. I love great TV ads, I love going into grocery stores on holidays and I love seeing marketers do things I wish I came up with. I’m always eager to talk with marketers about what they want to do. I have walked a mile in your shoes. My background includes CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke. I’m now a marketing consultant helping brands find their love and find growth for their brands. I do executive training and coaching of executives and brand managers, helping on strategy, brand planning, advertising and profitability. I’m the President of Beloved Brands Inc. and can help you find the love for your brand. To read more about Beloved Brands Inc, visit https://beloved-brands.com/inc/