P&G pushing ‘harder’ to drive shares around Sochi 2014 content

Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) top Olympic marketer Nathan Homer details how the business is pushing “even harder” to drive shares around its Winter Olympic content than it did for the London 2012 Games as it prepares to bring its campaign to UK TV screens.


The FMCG giant is prioritising its Sochi 2014 activity around host-country Russia ahead of other core regions in an attempt to make inroads into a market it has struggled in recent years.

It kicked off local activity for its updated ‘Thank You Mum” campaign last September before rolling it out worldwide earlier this week (6 January). In the UK, the campaign will begin in earnest this weekend (12 January) when it will air its “Pick Them Back Up” TV ad during ITV’s Dancing on Ice. Skeleton Bobsledder Shelley Rudman and her mother will front the campaign, which will focus on the company’s beauty products alongside in-store drives for its other household brands.

The company expects to generate “between a third and a half” of the $500m (£304.7m) sales lift it got from the Summer Games due to fewer nations taking part in the event. Despite this, Homer says the Winter Olympic brand is still a valuable platform for building resonance in the host country.

Marketing Week (MW): How does the Sochi 2014 version of “Thank You Mum” differ from what you did around the London 2012 Games?

Nathan Homer (NH): London was successful for us so the strategy we’re using this time round is very similar. It’s focused on the roads travelled by the mums of the athletes that we’re taking to the Games and how we insert our brands into those rich stories. The biggest change we’re making is increasing the role that videos play in reaching consumers. In the past we’ve been a very traditional TV-based advertiser and while the London Games saw us use a strong social media plan we’re pushing even harder this time to get our content shared and viewed. We launched our TV advert earlier this week (6 January) and already its got nearly 4 million views. We’re also ensuring that our brands are supporting one another when it comes to reposting content. We’ve identified brands that are likely to share consumers and the strategy has been shaped so that we’re being more constructive with how we re-distribute content.

MW: What is the value of the Winter Olympics in comparison to other events and how has its reach shaped your strategy?

NH: We knew when we entered into the partnership with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that the Winter Games would be smaller than the summer event. It still has big reach in terms of global appeal across regions. The host market – Russia in this case – is always the biggest opportunity when it comes to these types of global events. That said most of our main markets such as the US, Canada, Germany, France, China and the UK have their own Winter Olympic programs. We’re expecting to generate between a third to half of the return we got from the summer Games and that’s driven by the activation period being slightly shorter and less countries being involved.

MW: Has the controversy around Russia’s civil rights policies and terrorism concerns in the run up to the Games had a negative impact on P&G brands in Russia or any other markets?

NH: We haven’t seen any impact [from the ongoing concerns around the event] on our brands anywhere around the world so far. We’re absolutely clear on our views and policies on diversity and have every faith that IOC will deliver the Games in the way we expect. There’s been a strong response to the company’s work from consumers based on the early data we’ve seen and we’re hoping that leads to the same results we saw in London. It’s important for us to land the retail space we need, hit the number of consumer views we want and move the brand equity data in the right direction over the coming weeks.

MW: Will you rethink parts of your campaign now that U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist skier Lindsey Vonn [brand ambassador for  P&G beauty brands such as Olay and Pantene] has pulled out of competing at the event?  

NH: We’re disappointed for Lindsey and her family because she’s worked incredibly hard over the last year. It’s too early to say how we’ll proceed now she’s not going to be competing. A lot of the campaign we’re running is about the role mums play in picking their kids up and urging them to keep going. We’ll be looking at how do we play that role for Lindsey and if she wants to stay on and head out to Sochi then we’ll look to see if she wants to be involved with what we’re doing. If she doesn’t want to be anywhere near the event then we’ll respect that

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