P&G’s Branded Entertainment Pioneer

Creating Breakthrough Campaigns

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Melissa Dawn Johnson is a branded entertainment trailblazer for Procter & Gamble’s Media & Entertainment Innovation group. She put a Swiffer into the hands of Jessica Simpson on Rollingstone magazine and most recently, has Mary J. Blige speaking out about “Crest Healthy Smiles”.

These and other countless P&G; integration with films, celebrities and pop-culture has P&G;’s CEO, AG Lafley taking notice, recognizing her as an “Unsung Hero” for pioneering Branded Entertainment Marketing.

We sat down with Ms. Johnson to find out how to inspire innovative thinking, work with networks, create breakthrough campaigns and more.

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Interview Highlights:

Ms. Melissa Johnson’s Role

  • Ms. Johnson works in Media and Entertainment Innovation in North America Oral care.
  • Media and Entertainment Innovation is part of a holistic influence for marketing support, which looks at leveraging entertainment properties like, film, music and television to create meaningful connections with P&G;’s consumers.


Moving Beyond the 30-Second Spot

  • P&G; recognizes that that the marketplace is changing, and its company mantra is that the consumer is boss.
  • Consumers are choosing when and where they want to receive marketing messages. P&G;’s job is to find those receptivity points, pursue the right consumer connections that enable its brands to break through the ad clutter.


Does Branded Buzz Increase Sales?

  • P&G; has seen the impact of branded entertainment creating connections with the consumer that drives through to retailers.
  • Launching Crest’s vanilla mint tooth paste on the national television show “The Apprentice” created a genuine buzz. The program allowed P&G; to reach record sales with several of its retailers and gain pop culture relevance.
  • Entertainment enabled P&G; to change the paradigm that tooth paste is a low interest category and connected the message “Healthy, Beautiful Smiles for Life” with the consumer.


What Jessica Simpson Did for the Swiffer

  • The program with Jessica Simpson and Swiffer was exciting and captivated a consumer phenomenon: making cleaning “cool” and relevant among consumers.
  • The Swiffer placement on Rolling Stone magazine with Jessica Simpson is testament that Swiffer has become a cultural icon and redefined the way women think about cleaning.


Other Notable Campaigns

  • A cross promotion between Swiffer dusters and Columbia Tri Star home entertainment DVD launch of “Maid In Manhattan”. On the cover of the DVD, Jennifer Lopez is sitting on a cleaning cart with a Swiffer duster in hand.
  • P&G;’s homecare partnership with Universal Studios’ “The Cat In The Hat” release. The feature film and DVD release had five P&G; brands participate in a cros-promotional platform called “Good Clean Fun”.
  • In the campaign, “Dawn Goes The Distance”, P&G; did a partnership for a commercial integrated campaign with Robbie Knievel, Evil Knievel’s son.
  • Most recently, Mary J. Blige aligned with the “Crest Healthy Smiles” program.


Getting on Board with Networks and Studios

  • As Ms. Johnson looks at ways to bring commercial concepts to life, she works in partnership with networks and studios to identify opportunities and activate them. “The Apprentice” is one example of this.
  • Secondly, she figures out the right fit with a property, whether a film, label or an artist. She then works in partnership with these properties to identify how to go from an objective state or powerful concept to the marketplace.


Measurement’s Limitations

  • Currently, Ms. Johnson is using existing consumer metrics to measure the return on investment and the return on equity; however, she realizes that these are limiting.
  • As the marketplace is changing and P&G; is trying to reach people outside of traditional means, the company is constantly looking for measurement schemes that can address this adaptation.

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Tips for Constructing the Deal

  • Every deal is different, but there are some principles that have helped P&G; do breakthrough work:
  1. Always know where your consumer lives.
  2. Identify the key consumer passion points: Where is she most receptive? How does she engage with entertainment properties? Where is there an intuitive link to her brand, and how can you capitalize on that?
  3. Use your assets to the best of your ability to negotiate from a position of strength.
  4. When you do approach a partner, be very clear and focused on your strategy, objectives and expectations.
  5. Assess the risk and make sure that there is internal alignment to the direction, as well as the risk associated with moving forward.
  6. Leverage the strength of your agencies, the power of public relations, the power of in-store and the interactive medium to create a world-class program that continually surrounds the consumer and breaks through the clutter.
  7. Execution is key to really making a breakthrough idea come to life.


Creating a New Culture, Internally

  1. Think through where you want to lean forward, test and learn as the media landscape changes, while leveraging the power of entertainment to do great things in the marketplace.Unfortunately, yet fortunately, change is more rapid in the marketplace than within a company’s culture. Here’s how to pick up speed:
  2. Whine internally to management in order to gain advocacy and support.
  3. Do your do diligence as best as possible to measure what you do and hold yourselves to a high standard.


Has a Campaign Crushed a Product?

  • Any time you associate with an entity that’s out of your control, there is potential for risk.
  • Fortunately, Ms. Johnson has not personally experienced any negative backlash from a branded entertainment campaign.
  • Sometimes, consumers may not necessarily view an entertainment association with a brand positively, or they may question the association, rational — or may not even get the connection.
  • Therefore, it’s an interactive process and continual cycle: putting things in the marketplace; listening for consumer feedback; re-engineering and then following through.


Going Digital

  • As a company, P&G; is looking at opportunities across the board to be one step ahead in terms of connection and engagement points.
  • As long as P&G; can see that its consumers are going digital, then the company wants to be in that space.


Is the Commercial Obsolete?

  • It’s not so much a question of format as it is engaging content.
  • Ms. Johnson can’t say that P&G; will walk away from the thirty-second spot, but the company is continuing to look for engaging content.


What’s in the Works

  • Ms. Johnson’s team is always stewing on the next big thing.
  • Most recently, Ms. Johnson’s team launched the “Crest Healthy Smiles” program with Mary J. Blige. The program is impactful because it targets underprivileged children who are not educated about oral care and health benefits.
  • The campaign is going really well. Mary J. Blige is going to be launching her new album in the coming weeks, so P&G; is able to connect with the messaging in her CD as well as in stores.