Procter & Gamble began pinning material onto a new Pinterest board, "Thank You Mum," in earnest two days ago, in a sign that the company has finally found a social media outlet in which it can live comfortably. It appears to be P&G's first marketing foray onto Pinterest.
Marc Pritchard, P&G's global marketing and brand-building officer, recently told The Wall Street Journal to expect "some very heavy-duty digital activity for our Olympics program" in social media. But he gave no specifics. P&G is the world's largest advertiser, controlling a $10 billion ad budget.
The company signaled it wanted to save money by shifting marketing dollars into digital at the beginning of the year. The question, as always, is how to persuade consumers to engage with P&G's brands, most of which are not inherently social.
The answer: Pinterest.
The "Thank You Mum" pins feature former Spice Girl Mel C and runner Paula Radcliffe celebrating the packaged goods giant's Olympic sponsorship. And ... mothers. The account is controlled by "Glenda," one of P&G's community managers, and is part of a larger Olympics sponsorship.
Why this is important
It's easy to say you want to do more social media marketing if your brand is a movie or a rock band or something cool like a fashion label—that's the type of content-producing asset that people actually want to engage with on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Very often those brands are fronted by actual humans, such as designers, and thus have no trouble translating the "social" part of social media.
It's a lot harder if you're in P&G's business, selling soap, paper towels, and grooming products. Even a Tide loyalist isn't likely to sign up for tide.tumblr.com (indeed, that account is already taken by someone with an interest in, you guessed it, arty photography).
Sure, everyone loves Old Spice Guy. But P&G can't simply order all its other brands to come up with their own Old Spice Guys. Too obvious. (Old Spice Guy inflation is actually a problem in advertising right now—Edge Shave Gel and Dairy Queen already came up with their own versions of him.)
Pinterest = paradise for Procter
Now take a look at Pinterest. Its users do have an interest in clothing, cleanliness, laundry and the domestic sphere. You can see them pinning material about Tide—P&G's juggernaut laundry brand—here and here and here and here and here and here.
Many, many Pinterest users have sections titled "Products I love." There's even a guy with a Pinterest board devoted entirely to CPG (marketing shorthand for "consumer packaged goods").
Unilever, Procter's great nemesis, has received similar love on Pinterest. You can see its logo pinned here and here and here and here and here and here. You can say the same about its Dove soap brand, too.
For both companies, Pinterest is a godsend: It's the only social medium in which domestic product content has built-in relevance and an audience that wants it. Expect the P&G/Unilever takeover of Pinterest to continue apace.