Proctor & Gamble became a poster child for social media engagement in 2012 with its ‘Best Job’ television spot for the London Olympics. Not only did it become a viral sensation across multiple social media channels, but it also won the Emmy for Commercial of the Year (a fourth straight win for ad agency, Wieden & Kennedy).
It now looks like it will continue this impressive and perilous balancing act between top creativity and broad-based appeal (especially tough for a global consumer brand) with the new spot just launched for the 2014 Winter Olympics. In doing so, P&G reveals three critical steps in the architecture of a global brand community:
1. LEAD WITH PURPOSE: The point of departure for every successful brand community has to be the definition of the brand and its purpose. Without that clarity, one cannot hope to tell a story worth sharing by employees and customers. In P&G’s case, the purpose-driven tagline is, ‘Touching Lives, Improving Life,’ and the spots are a palpable demonstration of both aspects of the tagline. It even extends to the home page of the corporate website, pictured above.
Key Takeaway: Only a story worth telling is a story worth sharing.
2. CELEBRATE CUSTOMERS: What is striking about both commercials is that the hero of the story is neither the brand nor the athletes, but rather the too often unsung heroines, the Moms. By celebrating the Mom behind athletes at the Olympics, P&G taps into every athlete’s personal experience of all that their mother has done for them. The message is both personal and universal, as well as being elevated because this is the Olympics. Here is the first ad for the London Olympics:
Key Takeaway: A brand must be the chief celebrant, not celebrity, of its customer community.
3. BE INNATELY SHAREABLE: Even when brands make a positive contribution to others, too often they tell that story in a self-directed way. After all, they are in the business of selling product. What P&G did so wisely was to realize the currency they were trading was emotion, not dollars, and by maintaining a focus on the heroes of these stories – the Moms – they ensured the commercials were something viewers want to share. You only need to look at the sign-offs to see the proof.
For the London Olympics it is #ThankYouMom while for the Sochi ad (already past 500,000 views) it is #BecauseOfMom. In both cases, they are propositions everyone can relate to and inspire people to reach out to their own moms to say their thanks. The comments under the Sochi ad and the hashtags across Twitter and Facebook reveal how viewers are adding their personal lives to the larger brand story. Here is the first ad for the Sochi Winter Olympics:
In both cases, the commercials are direct reflections of the company brand’s purpose and by signing off each ad with the logos of their product brands, all enjoy a positive halo effect that builds the company’s reputation, customer loyalty and sales.
By taking such an approach, P&G has transformed corporate advertising into a celebration of humanity. Each ad ends with a short life lesson, much like the ones we all received from our Moms, and in both cases the viewers’ comments speak to how the commercials left them ‘teary-eyed.’
I have long asserted that social technology is teaching us to be human again and the P&G ads are valuable examples of how a corporate brand can tap into the powerful emotions and connections that provide the framework for social networks. By leading with purpose, celebrating customers, and crafting innately shareable stories, brands of all sizes can tap into the true power of social media which is to inspire employees and customers to build your business and brands with you.