I haven’t blogged for a little while because I hadn’t seen any really great evidence of rethinking worth writing about. Then I read this article by Andrew Adam Newman, and WOW!
I do think Newman fails to mention what seems to me as the biggest point of all – which I will get to. The good news is that someone involved with marketing at P&G really gets the cultural change that has already happened, that will continue to happen and they have taken advantage of it in a great, great way.
But before I get to that, I have to bring up something on the opposite end of the spectrum that is evidence that someone involved with marketing at Restoration Hardware is way, way, way out of touch. Last year I got their Fall catalogue, which by itself is notable because I don’t get many catalogues because I do most of my shopping in person or through Amazon. I have been into a Restoration Hardware, but I don’t shop there, so it’s already a waste of at least the two dollars it costs to send a piece of first class mail to someone (all in costs from paper, postage, transportation, ink, etc. – just ask Steve Shivers over at doxo). Then I picked it up and opened it. Very dark photographs of a lot of things I have no need for. And as if that’s not enough – the catalogue was 615 pages long (see photo). I immediately pictured a fleet of US Postal Service making a special run, loaded up with these catalogues that weigh a lot. What a spectacular waste of money. If they feel really need to do a catalogue, call the people at ZMAGS and make it digital (and add some color to the photos). I am still not going to read it, but at least they won’t be wasting so much money.
Back to P&G.
I love the idea of an ad interrupting another ad with a completely unrelated product (though both owned by P&G, at the risk of stating the obvious). That’s awesome, and the beauty is that it’s totally brand aligned with the Old Spice campaign of late with Terry Crews (there’s a very funny compilation video of him out on YouTube and here). I will admit I had not previously heard of Charmin Fresh Mates, but the idea is pretty simple and might even be more eco-friendly. The really big point that wasn’t mentioned in the article was the cultural change that it reflects. Two, actually. First of all, short summaries of things (like news headlines) are not new, and in some circles there is a special word, other than blurb, which is “squib” for that short summary. What is relatively new, fed largely by Twitter, is the need to express things with very little time or space in which to express them – the tweet. The other thing that is also not new, but is far more prevalent in our culture is the interruption. Text messages interrupting meeting discussions, e-mails interrupting work on a document – we are getting interrupted all day long now. This P&G move is a combination of the two in a very elegant way – the 30 second ad spot is so 27 seconds ago . . . it’s too long. P&G only needs half the time to, in effect “Tweet” their ad, so the interruption happens after they have delivered their message and they can deliver another message in the remaining time. Awesome.