P&G moves beyond 30-sec spots in 'show-mercials' deal
LONDON - Procter & Gamble is to make good on its call for advertisers to look beyond the 30-second commercial with a series of interconnected two-minute slots, dubbed 'show-mercials', which will run in primetime movie breaks.
The two-minute films feature women being given makeovers using P&G products. To see the full effect, viewers have to tune in to all three slots, which are being run during movies on the Lifetime cable channel in the US.
The latest initiative by P&G is part of an attempt by one of the world's largest advertisers to look beyond the 30-second spot, the power of which is increasingly on the wane.
The move follows comments made last year when P&G marketing chief Jim Stengel told the advertising industry that it must look beyond 30-second television spot and create advertising that viewers want to see.
Stengel said that that "there must be life beyond the 30-second spot" and that the industry had to change its mentality with regard to media plans and that time measurement.
The two-minute "show-mercials", which begin in July and are due to run through to October, mark another first for P&G because they advertise not one of its brands, but bring together a number of brands including Crest, CoverGirl, Clairol, Pantene and Olay.
Tina Glahan, manager media and marketing for P&G, told The Wall Street Journal: "Consumers want to be educated, and they want to enjoy themselves when they watch TV."
It is not the first such initiative, but it marks a broad front as advertisers look around for new ideas to beat ad avoidance and the rise of personal video recorders such as Sky Plus and TiVo.
The idea that advertisers can create something that viewers want to watch is something Stengel hit on as well. "We must embrace the consumer's point of view about TV and create advertising consumers choose to watch."
And if people want to watch it, then what the segments can not be is one long ad. This is something that P&G media agency Starcom MediaVest, which worked on the project, was clear on.
Stengel's comments come from the understanding that advertisers have lost whole groups of consumers, which echoed back to the very beginnings of commercial television when P&G created the soap opera for the express purpose of reaching particular consumers.
This approach is being revisited by the likes of WPP Group media agency MindShare, which in December announced it was getting together with US TV network ABC to work on television programmes with the idea that advertisers will get early input in the development of new shows.
ABC, owned like the Lifetime channel by Disney, and MindShare said they would focus on the development of family-orientated programmes with the costs being shared between the two companies.
For MindShare, the idea is to create popular programmes that its clients can then advertise on and sponsor.
That deal followed several other similar attempts in the UK, Europe and the US to involve advertisers in developing programme ideas such as the Nokia-funded 'Fashion House' reality-TV show broadcast in Europe.
Most notable in the UK has been Five's controversial cookery show 'Dinner Doctors', created and paid for by Heinz and, in a similar move in the US, Ford was the sole sponsor of last season's opening episode of '24' on Fox with a series of ads that reflected the dramatic nature of '24'.
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