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Unlocking P&G’s Olympic Ad Strategy

The Irresistible Power of a Great Story

PG2012While athletes competed for gold in the 2012 Olympics in London, consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble created gold through the development of an insightful storytelling strategy and flawless execution.  On the Olympic field of business competition, there are plenty of golden nuggets to apply to your own business.

Is Your Story Compelling?
With over three decades of working with business owners, I’ve found that most have an “information-type” of story about their company.  It’s filled with just the facts…years in business, amount of experience, product details, blah, blah, blah.  While this information is important for the prospect to know, it is not compelling them to make a choice in your business’ direction.

Often, I hear the response that “we sell a commodity product” and the consumer is making a buying decision based on those facts.  Partially true.  But P&G sells all kinds of commodity products and invested millions in telling stories that engage consumers.  So a good story is powerful, even for a commodity product.  The question is, what story are you going to tell? That’s another easy one to answer.  You need to tell “your prospect’s story.”

The best types of strategies are simple ones.  
Ones that you can write on a napkin. 

Here’s my version of P&G’s Olympic strategy:

Every athlete has a mom.
P&G consumers are moms.
Tell an athlete-mom story.

They called it the “Thank You, Mom” message and delivered it consistently across the world’s stage.  The result has been to build up its brands and corporate image while boosting sales across the globe.

Based on that strategy, P&G sponsored athletes (and their moms) and told the stories of Olympian families, their struggles and how their mother’s support was vital.

You may recall two of the TV spots.  One was called “The Hardest Job in the World,” and the other showed the Olympic athletes as children competing.  Both were very touching.

But the storytelling didn’t end with just two TV spots.  Many more athlete-mom stories were developed called “Raising an Olympian.”  They took shape in 5-minute versions online featuring Gabby Douglas, Ryan Lochte, Lolo Jones and other athletes.   The “Thank You, Mom” campaign continued on Facebook where P&G collected 770,000 likes and now is leveraging those connections with compelling messages and questions.

Application to Your Business

Duplicating P&G’s strategy for your business doesn’t require a multi-million dollar ad campaign.  It does require insight, wisdom and a new perspective on storytelling.  Sometimes that requires an external perspective.

Steps to Improving Your Story

  1. Narrow Your Market—Business owners often express a concern about missing out on certain groups by narrowing their target too much.  Narrowing the prospect pool typically raises the effectiveness of the advertising to the target market and often draws in those who are outside the target.  For example, P&G targeted the mothers of Olympic athletes.  That’s a rather narrow group.  But it is one that ALL moms could appreciate and find value in.
  2. Understand the Emotions of Your Market–Your story has to include much more than just the needs of the market and the benefits of your product.  If you understand the emotions that your target market faces (What keeps them up at night?  What do their frustrations feel like?), then you can demonstrate that you understand them.  Everyone wants to be understood.  People are naturally drawn to people and products where they feel they are understood.  This is a huge point of connection that will separate your business, product or service from the competition.
  3. Re-Write Your Story—Based on the first two steps, re-write your story so that it is about your newly narrowed target market.  Through the story, demonstrate that you understand them and they will be engaged.  Finish the story with an offer that is relevant and valuable so that it is compelling the prospect to take action.

Lolo JonesPersonal Note: My favorite “Raising an Olympian” story features Lolo Jones.  She was raised in a family that was at one time homeless.  I’ve always naturally rooted for the underdog.   Plus, back in the day, I ran the race that she mastered.

Who is your favorite athlete from the 2012 Olympic Games?

Tell me about it!

Posted in hmt
2 comments on “Unlocking P&G’s Olympic Ad Strategy
  1. I forgot to mention that my other favorite Olympic athlete to watch is Gabby Douglas. That infectious smile combined with talent and grace is enough to be a compelling story.

  2. Paula Goodnight says:

    Our family was GLUED to the Women’s Soccer and, of course, Gabby Douglas and all the gymnastics. Oh, and the men’s and women’s swimming. Wait a minute, we watched the beach volleyball. And fencing, yes, fencing. Guess our whole family just thoroughly enjoyed the Olympics – starting with the Opening Ceremonies in full….we even made popcorn.

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