Posted December 15, 2008 4:24 am by with 19 comments

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The New York Times recently ran an article by Randall Stross about Procter & Gamble‘s attempt at marketing on Facebook. While I will give Procter & Gamble credit for at least trying to engage social media, it’s pretty obvious that they are drastically failing.

Stross points out several examples of Procter & Gamble’s botched attempts such as the “Crest Whitestrips” fan page. In this example Procter & Gamble successfully lures around 14,000 Facebook members to become “fans”. However, under closer inspection it appears that the lure was in the way of free movie tickets and Def Jam concerts! They could have easily gotten just as many fans for any of their brands with a promotion like that.

Another example of their failed attempts is a page for laundry detergent “2X Ultra Tide”. On this page Tide ask visitors to contribute photos of their “favorite places to enjoy stain-making moments!” no, I am not kidding. This ridiculous 11-month campaign titled “America’s Favorite Stains” brought in a whopping 18 photos, two of which were from Procter & Gamble themselves and two more from the fine folks at The Onion.

So why is Procter & Gamble failing in the world of social media? Maybe, because they aren’t being social! Brands need to engage with real conversations, using real spokes people that are able to make personable connections with their target audience.

Even, Stross, misses the point completely when he finishes up his article with,

Brand advertisers on Facebook can try one of two new approaches. They can be more intrusive, but the outcome will not be positive. Or they can create genuinely entertaining commercials, but spend ungodly sums to do so.

When Facebook convinces advertisers to stage Super Bowl-sized entertainment every day, its future will be assured.

TVs are meant to be watched, magazines and newspapers are meant to be read, and social media is meant to be social. You can not rely on out-of-date advertising strategies in social media. And Super Bowl-sized ads will be nothing more than ads, and will be ignored like all the others.

If anyone from Procter & Gamble is reading this, then take my advice and start getting social in social media. If you need any ideas on how that works, give me a call, I have a few ideas that I can share! 😉

  • It is really very surpicing for me.

  • It doesn’t surprise me. I have yet to find a corporate or big company that really understands the Internet, let alone the social aspects. You are spot-on when you say that P&G needs to start being social. Big business hasn’t yet realised that social means people talking to each other – not a repository for daft ad campaigns. Ho hum./

  • The media is still new for old time marketeers. They will learn.

    Nicole Price’s last blog post..Festive Gifts (Part II)

  • Leo

    Considering that the company has the potential and leverage to launch something major, it looks like they are trying to low ball it and get something for nothing. As far as their “fav places to enjoy stain…” campaign, personally I see no incentive in sending pictures and I would think that most people wouldn’t either. I guess it is back to the drawing board for P&G. Wonder what their next attempt will be.

    Leo’s last blog post..Internet Marketers- Web2.0 Traffic Does NOT want to be sold to

  • Great post. Maybe they hired one of those new Social Media experts. lol. @Nicole: Yeah, this is a new form of advertising for them. Maybe they’ll catch on, maybe they won’t.

  • Proctor and Gamble is a company owned by people who are completely out of touch with society. I am totally against how they test their products on animals and they continue to do so even being an extremely unpopular choice. They really don’t have any incentive to change either considering they own so many popular products.

    Patrick’s last blog post..EcoSmart Natural Organic Insecticides

  • First off I highly doubt that P&G does their own marketing like this. I am sure agencies handle it for them. I know GroupM just won their search engine marketing contract so maybe thing will improve.

    Also I dont think it is a bad thing to give away items to attract people to your social home pages at all.

    Jaan Kanellis’s last blog post..2008 Year-End Google Zeitgeist Released, Sarah Palin Rules

  • Bill

    “Proctor and Gamble is a company owned by people who are completely out of touch with society.”

    So…since this is a publicly-traded company – it’s owned by society. Then is society out of touch with society?

    I guess you could make that point…


  • Remember the post a while back about Google and P&G swapping employees? If they are just grasping search I can’t imagine that actual social media is even on the radar for them. Even corporate behemoths have to take baby steps I suppose and it looks like P&G is not even at the crawling stage yet regarding social media.

    Frank Reed’s last blog post..Merry Christmas to All

  • I totally agree. It’s a shame that some people are judging the whole concept by a few examples. It’s an iterative process.

    Nick Gonzalez’s last blog post..Display Advertising: Know What You’re Giving Away

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  • Hey guys – I work closely with P&G on social and emerging media and I can say from first hand experience that they do get the issues. The hardest part in the social network space is the execution. P&G is out there testing, trying new things, experimenting and working with users to evolve how we communicate TOGETHER. They’re working to be part of the evolution of Social instead of watching from the sidelines.

    It’s also worth noting that P&G is a large company with over 300 brands, every single one is different: different products, different markets, different customers, different connection points, different conversations and metrics for success. There is no “one-size-fits-all” solution or even a template we can use for any given brand. But P&G’s brands are putting time, effort and commitment into Social because they want to find ways to bring it to life in ways that meaningfully connect with their consumers and that make sense for their business.

    deb schultz’s last blog post..This week’s links from around the net

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  • “start getting social” doesn’t mean anything. bottom line is that proctor & gamble’s products are mundane. I don’t talk about toothpaste or detergent when i’m not on the computer. i’m not going to talk about these things online either. not everyone can be apple computer.

    russell’s last blog post..Meet the new media, same as the old media

  • I think they should hire some proffesonal.

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