Marketing Week (MW): Why did P&G decide to sponsor the Olympics for the next 10 years?
Marc Pritchard (MP): We realised pretty quickly that the purpose of P&G – to touch and improve lives – is pretty congruent with the purpose of the Olympics, which is to make life better through sport.
Our sponsorship allows us to both create a big idea that unites our brands under a P&G umbrella, such the Proud Sponsor of Mums campaign, and develop Olympic-themed ideas around our individual brands.
Our journey began when we got US rights to the Vancouver Winter Games and put some brand programmes together for that. They looked quite good, but we thought we could have more impact, so we challenged our agency to unite the purposes of the two organisations. That’s when we came back with the idea that every Olympic athlete has a mum, and it went from there.
MW: You have talked about London 2012 as the first truly digital Olympics. How has that influenced your approach this time?
MP: Beijing 2008 was just the beginning. Vancouver was a little bit more digital, but this time our broadcast partners are truly looking to extend across all platforms so that has affected us.
Digital gives us a chance to connect with people on a one-to-one basis. Digital technology is making it inevitable that you’re going to create conversations with people rather than broadcasting to them. We are developing Facebook communities and already have a Thank You Mum Facebook site. We’re also working with Twitter and both the athletes and brands will be tweeting. That will allow us to create deeper content that will engage people and generate participation in the games as never before.
MW: How do you choose the right Olympians to represent P&G as brand ambassadors?
MP: We talk with the British Olympic Association about great athletes who would be good spokespeople, not only for P&G but also for them. We want them to have good stories, or be athletes that people will get excited about. We then tie that in with one or more of our brands. So Paula Radcliffe is a mum, and she’s got a great mum, Pat Radcliffe, who’s supported her throughout her career. She’s going to help us represent Pampers and Fairy because it takes about 20,000 meals to build an Olympic athlete over their life. That’s a lot of dishes [to wash]!
Cyclist Sir Chris Hoy and swimmer Liam Hancock are representing Gillette because to be a great cyclist or swimmer you’ve got to get off to a good start. You need to think who would be a good ambassador for the country, who would be a good ambassador for the brand and P&G, and then you come up with an idea that fits with the particular athlete.
MW: Is that the same strategy you’re using with Capital Clean-up, where you’re tying in particular brands with parts of the activity to clean London before the Games?
MP: Exactly. That’s another great UK-specific activity that we’re doing. It was developed from insight that London wants to look its best because the whole world is coming round.
We looked at our cleaning brands, including Ariel, Fairy, Flash, Febreze, and worked out how they could fit into the Capital Clean-up. Febreze, for example, will make London a greener place by creating a number of leafy ‘Fresh Havens’.
We’re going to clean all the way through the Olympic Games so we can make London an even better place.