How P&G is making Always a ‘giving’ brand

Sanitary brand Always recently launched its latest campaign ‘#LikeAGirl’. But it is not the usual creative aimed at tapping into the feminine hygiene market, projected by Smithers Apex to be worth nearly $25bn (£14.6bn) globally by 2018.

Instead, it focuses on how girls feel during puberty, with brand owner Procter and Gamble’s research suggesting more than half experience a drop in confidence.

It explores the concept of doing something ‘like a girl’ – a phrase associated with poor performance – via a video by documentary-maker Lauren Greenfield, which has 28 million views on YouTube since it launched two weeks ago. Older girls are asked to demonstrate running or throwing ‘like a girl’ and do so in a mocking way. But the 5 to 13 age group are fearless.

The anonymous author of a new book, The Social Brand, says that the campaign’s mission – ‘celebrating being a girl’ is a powerful one, saying nearly all of its marketing activations have been ‘deposits’. The author explains that marketers must now consider having a ‘brand bank account’ for their products, where withdrawals (advertising, or the price of a product) are balanced by deposits which could be useful content for example.

Here’s the author’s full analysis of the campaign, provided exclusively to Marketing Week.

There are four prerequisites to becoming a successful Social Brand, building both your business and making a positive impact at the same time. These are:

1. The product.

Always Like a girl dance

In marketing and business terms, your product is what you ultimately give. This is what people go out and buy and pay a certain price for. It is the first deposit on your Brand Bank Account. And Always in my opinion has one of the best products out there (as you would expect from P&G).

2. To really deliver a brand mission.

The book highlights the need for a shift in mind-set, starting with asking the right questions. It argues that traditional positioning documents ask the wrong question in today’s social era: ‘What shall we make consumers think of us?’ rather than: ‘What can we do for our customers?’. It’s no longer about finding and communicating the right positioning, it’s about finding your brand’s mission and asking yourself how you can actually go out and make that mission happen, or ‘doing’ instead of only ‘communicating’. Now the mission that Always chose: “Celebrating ‘being a girl’,” is definitely a powerful one.

A brand mission has three building blocks:

Insight: is the product and mission based on a real insight? I definitely believe LikeAGirl ticks that box. And judging by the amount of views and tweets it has accumulated it has definitely hit a chord.

Personality: personality is always a key element of any positioning. When defining a brand mission this remains very important. A mission is what you do and your personality is how you do it. Looking a bit deeper at the Always brand, its personality seems consistent and authentic. So this box is ticked.

Mission. I believe that Always has a strong mission. However there are two questions: the brand has now chosen to inspire people to celebrate being a girl and is it now also going to take this further? What more are they going to do to help girls overcome this insecurity and feel empowered? Another point when defining a mission is that (like a positioning) it has to be unique and differentiating. And in tone, style and mission it does remind me very much of Dove.

3. Link your mission to your product: 

Always like a girl run

One of the key difficulties in creating a social brand is keeping your brand mission close to your product. The urge to create a beautiful social mission can be strong, but if it doesn’t link back to your product, it won’t build your brand or business as strongly as it could.

These insights by the author have been confirmed by research of over 250,000 people taking blind versus non blind taste tests executed by research partners OP&P; it has been proven that if you link your brand mission to your product in a credible and authentic way it can increase the brand’s likeability by 20 per cent.

In the case of Always there is definitely a link. The link is feeling secure, feeling strong. However it is not a strong one. This is a watch-out for the future and something Dove has had to learn as well, for instance: how to make sure that brand love will turn into product purchase.

4. Marketing mix:

Always like a girl swing

People do not seek out the vast majority of current day marketing and advertising—they have to endure them. The book highlights that traditional TV and online advertising as well as direct mail are considered a ‘withdrawal’ in today’s marketing mix, something that disrupts people from something they were enjoying doing.

And that it is through engagement programmes, content creation, social media, gaming and brand events to name but a few that deposits can be made in the brand bank account. In the case of Always, the marketing activations are nearly deposits. Branded content (that people choose to watch) is a clear deposit. It’s interesting and emotional watching, giving the viewer value. Next to that the #LikeAGirl hashtag has really got people engaged and engagement is the ultimate form of giving – people doing something for the brand (sharing your message) in a way that they themselves thoroughly enjoy.

So, besides a couple of watch outs in the field of uniqueness and linking it back to their product I believe that Always can be labelled as a true Social Brand.