Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Innovation in Marketing Rides High at P&G

This great piece of reporting comes from Reveries' Cool News of the Day. I just had to share it with you because it should get your own gears turning in a new direction. If P&G, with its historic commitment to mass advertising, can make the shift to delivering messages in a more relevant manner, what can you do?

Take an hour of your best thinking time and ponder this. Let down all your preconceived notions and some whacky brain burst is likely to pop out ... and it just might not be whacky!

And now for the article that got my mind turning:

Almost a century ago, Procter & Gamble popularize the concept of mass-market advertising. Now ... it wants to tout its brands directly to consumers where they're most likely to be influenced: in the store," report Emily Nelson and Sarah Ellison in The Wall Street Journal. P & G has even coined a term for the in-store equivalent of the 30-second commercial: FMOT, or "first moment of truth." It's a lot shorter than 30 seconds -- the FMOT is the amount of time it takes "shoppers to make up their minds about a product" -- somewhere between "three to seven seconds." This is serious stuff: P & G has a 15-person FMOT department in its headquarters, "as well as 50 FMOT leaders stationed around the world," led by a Director of First Moment of Truth, Dina Howell.

P & G "won't say how much it spends on" FMOT (pronounced EFF-mot), however "it has cut its commitments to advertise on cable channels for the current season by 25 percent and its broadcast-TV allotment is down about five percent. At the same, overall ad spending rose slightly." So, how is P & G spending its FMOT dollars? In the UK, to promote Pampers, they "put fake doorknobs high up on restroom doors, to remind parents how much babies need to stretch." In the US, "for the launch of Kandoo wipes ... P & G convinced retailers to place packages low on shelves, so they would be at toddler's eye-level. It also created display shelves in the shape of the product's frog mascot to attract children's attention." Dina Howell says the idea is to make the packaging "interrupt" shoppers. It's all a far piece from a Super Bowl ad, although a good chunk of FMOT effort actually goes into TV as well.

But that would be Wal-Mart TV-- an in-store television network -- which is seen by some "120 million shoppers a month," according to Neilsen Media Research. "Last year, 122 new products were launched on Wal-Mart TV ... including goods from P & G, Unilever and Gillette." However, much of the time, the FMOT is far more complicated than running a TV spot, and demands new approaches. According to Joe Celia, of Grey Synchronized Partners, the in-store piece is no longer the afterthought it used to be: "Now we all start together from the beginning," he says. And for agencies, it's no longer a matter of simply pleasing their clients, but also the retailers -- not to mention making sure P & G's doorknobs, or whatever, get installed. All told, "companies are expected to spend about $18.6 billion on in-store marketing and in-store ads this year, up from $17.6 last year," according to Veronis Suhler Stevenson Partners.

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