Consumer brands heavyweight Procter & Gamble is done sitting on the social media sidelines. Recent rumors have revealed the company has determined that social media is the future of marketing. This isn’t surprising, with the great success and evangelism-charged growth of smaller, values-driven companies such as Seventh Generation. Fast-growing Seventh Generation is now also distributing to Wal-Mart and maintains a deep, authentic connection with its community via its popular newsletter, blog, CEO Jeffrey Hollender’s blog, community, and even Twitter. As a bonfire brand, it practically markets itself. Yet P&G has yet to put any serious effort in social media until right now.
P&G’s social media experiment is a campaign called Loads of Hope, in promotion of its Tide brand and benefiting Feeding America. The company flew over a hundred social media experts to Cincinnati headquarters to meet with brand managers, divided them into four teams and kicked off a fund raising competition via Twitter, blogs, social networks, etc., to drive traffic to one of the four tracking sites (tide1.com, tide2.com, etc.). The goal: raise $100k toward disaster relief and prove the value of social media. Of course, the bloggers and twitterers involved have plenty to gain by winning. By impressing the brand managers of the largest consumer brands company, they will improve their chances at winning a piece of the company’s over $6.7 billion annual advertising budget, as it tests the waters for a better way to market its products.
The campaign is certainly getting buzz as web influencers such as Federated Media’s John Battelle announce the great cause and their support for it (Battelle twittered that he will be buying 100 shirts), and any brand or product that ties its success to a worthwhile cause is probably worth supporting. Yet, this campaign requires that the consumer act first. So, if you buy a t-shirt and wear the “cool, hip, retro” Tide billboard around town, P&G will kick back a few bucks toward disaster relief. Sounds a bit like P&G wants consumers to buy the cow so it can drink feel-good-cause-fortified milk for free, don’t you think?
Check out one of the campaign videos: