Procter & Gamble ends soap opera sponsorship – a must read for Rowan U. and other advertising majors

As Professor Litwin has said in class, so many times:

The way it was. From Procter & Gamble, AP. Cast of "Guiding Light" in 1937, a radio (and later TV) show sponsored by Procter & Gamble, which helped coin the term "soap operas." Ratings for daytime dramas have been sinking for years. Now, P&G and other big firms recognize social media as the efficient way to connect with customers. (Associated Press)

“The future is now and will (probably) change before this class ends.” To comment:

By DAN SEWELL • Associated Press •

December 10, 2010

“As the World Tweets”

CINCINNATI — Goodbye, “Guiding Light.” Hello, YouTube.

Procter & Gamble Co., whose sponsorship and production of daytime TV dramas helped coin the

term “soap operas,” has pulled the plug after 77 years. Instead, the maker of Tide detergent, Ivory
soap and Olay skincare is following its customers online with a big push on YouTube, Twitter and

“The digital media has pretty much exploded,”
marketing chief Marc Pritchard said in an interview.
“It’s become very integrated with how we operate, it’s

become part of the way we do marketing.”

The last P&G-produced soap opera, “As The World
Turns,” went off the air in September. The show was
the leading daytime soap for decades, but had lost
some two-thirds of its audience at the end.

Over the years, P&G produced 20 soap operas for
radio and TV. But ratings for daytime dramas have
been sinking for years, as women, their target
audience, increasingly moved into the workplace,
switched to talk and reality shows, and spent more
time using online media and social networking

P&G, the world’s biggest advertiser, still buys
individual commercials on daytime dramas. But the
dollar amount has shrunk. P&G won’t say by how

Dori Molitor, whose WomanWise LLC agency
specializes in marketing brands to women, says big
companies are realizing that social media is an
efficient way to connect with customers.

“Social media has become mass media, and for
women especially,” she said. “I think for all
marketers, these one-way, 30-second (TV) spots are
very expensive, and are less effective for the way
that women make decisions.”

Marketing experts say the biggest companies were
generally slow to adapt to the rapid rise of social
networks, but that beverage rivals Coca-Cola Co.

and Pepsico Inc., and P&G and fellow consumer
products makers Unilever PLC and Johnson &
Johnson are among those quickly making up for
lost time.

In recent months, P&G began selling Pampers
diapers on Facebook, offering an iPhone application
for Always feminine products that allows women to
track menstrual cycles and ask experts questions,
and using social media to turn a campaign for the
venerable Old Spice brand into a pop-culture icon.

The “Smell like a Man, Man” commercials starring
hunky former football player Isaiah Mustafa became
a YouTube sensation, drawing tens of millions of
views and spawning parodies such as one with
Sesame Street’s Grover, and generated another
round of attention with Twitter questions that
Mustafa answered in videos — such as on ABC’s
Good Morning America when he suggested that
President Barack Obama could improve standing
with female voters by wearing only a towel and
beginning speeches with “Hello, Ladies!”

The echo effect gives P&G a bigger bang for its
nearly 9 billion bucks a year spent on advertising.

“It is such an effective advertising campaign that we
are getting impressions that we did not pay for,”
CEO Bob McDonald told investors recently,
recounting that he saw an editorial cartoon showing
Obama on horseback, a takeoff on Mustafa’s “I’m on
a horse” Old Spice catch-phrase.

For a company known for measuring just about
everything, P&G touts big numbers from Old Spice


Number of impressions (people who saw, read, or
heard about commercials): 1.8 billion.

Number of YouTube views for Old Spice and related
videos: 140 million and counting.

Increase in Twitter followers for Old Spice: 2,700

P&G also said Old Spice sales are growing at double
digits, taking more of the market for body washes
and deodorant.

Just 20 months ago, P&G hosted “digital night” at its
Cincinnati headquarters by inviting Google,
Facebook, Twitter and other online experts to help
test ways online and digital media could be used in
marketing. By the Vancouver Winter Olympics last
February, P&G was coordinating TV commercials
with Facebook messages and tracking instant
reactions to new commercials on Twitter.

P&G, which sponsored Team USA, unveiled
sentimental “Thank you, Mom!” commercials at the
Olympics that it estimates added $100 million in
sales. The campaign has included Facebook essay
contests and e-Cards for mothers.

P&G says it’s still exploring new uses for social

“It’s kind of the oldest form of marketing — word of
mouth — with the newest form of technology,”
Pritchard said.