Isn’t it mums that sponsor P&G rather than the other way around?

Lucy Handley is a key member of the Marketing Week features team and has also worked in advertising agencies so can bring a unique perspective to client-agency relationships when writing on this topic.

I have mixed feelings about Procter & Gamble’s ‘Proud sponsor of mums’ Olympic sponsorship campaign.

My first reaction to it is that mums are actually the sponsors of P&G rather than the other way around. They are the ones that ‘sponsor’ it, by buying its products and therefore keeping the company afloat.

P&G might say that its products help mothers do chores more efficiently and therefore make their lives easier. It is also investing money on athletes and their families, but ultimately it is still consumers’ cash it is using to do this.

It is a clear effort by P&G to tell consumers that many of the products they rely on are all made by the same company and therefore try to elicit a sense of warmth by mums and families towards the manufacturer.

But there is the rub. Do people actually care about this or not? I think that marketing yourself as a big conglomerate might actually put people off buying your products – or at worst be met with a shrug of the shoulders.

Roisin Donnelly, who heads up P&G’s marketing in the UK, says that what people want is ‘a lot of great brands’, hence promoting them collectively, and that marketing P&G as a corporate brand helps consumers put faith in the company.

But for me, the proud sponsors idea is rather patronising and puts mothers firmly in the ‘does household chores’ box, even though the number of stay at home mothers is falling.

One quite sweet element of the campaign is encouraging people to upload a video of themselves saying thank you to your mum in advance of Mothering Sunday, which P&G is encouraging people to do via YouTube, as part of the Olympics campaign. In return, people can enter a draw to win tickets to the Games.

This seems the more selfless part of the push to make the most of its Olympic partnership: people don’t have to buy products and P&G does not collect data for marketing – whereas its other 2012 ticket giveaway does mean buying a box of Ariel or some Pampers, filling in a form and opting in or out of future marketing.

And I guess P&G would argue that giving away thousands of tickets to the 2012 Games, as well as supporting athletes, is its way of thanking consumers for buying its brands. Clearly it wants to make the most of its multi-million dollar worldwide sponsorship, I just wish it was a bit more forward-looking in its attitude towards mothers.

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