Television era is over, senses Procter & Gamble

Procter & Gamble moves from soap operas to tweets

By Dan Sewell, AP Business Writer/San Francisco Chronicle

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 Facebook.
"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 about 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 sites.

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 much.

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

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. 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. P&G says it's still exploring new uses for social media.

"It's kind of the oldest form of marketing - word of mouth - with the
newest form of technology," Pritchard said.

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