P&G ... and authenticity?

Over at Engage, Greg's focused on Proctor & Gamble's continuing quest for measurable results and effective techniques in marketing and advertising. He was prompted to comment by Jeff Jarvis, who in turn was spinning off a recent speech by P&G's global marketing officer. The speech has a lot of self-congratulation. It makes some broad generalizations. And the easy take-away quote is:

All marketing should be permission marketing. All marketing should be so appealing that consumers want us in their lives. We should strive to be invited into consumers’ lives and homes.

But there's a more detailed point to be found in the speech notes:

Consumers today are less responsive to traditional media. They are embracing new technologies that empower them with more control over how and when they are marketed to. They are making more purchase decisions in environments where marketers have less direct influence (in store, word of mouth, professional recommendations, etc.).

It's easy to jump on P&G's apparent misinterpretation of "permission marketing," but the speaker does make clear their approach is about "collaboration." It's about reaching out to P&G consumers through new and vibrant channels, channels where they have proven receptive and open to innovative marketing messages.

Together with our partners, we’re learning how new connection points can have a profound impact on how we reach consumers beyond the 30-second TV spot (in-store, mobile technology and text message groups, pop-ups, digitized billboards that can be programmed, coffee wrappers).

(Well, maybe not pop-ups)

P&G has been beating this drum for years. They've been demanding better consumer information from the media, more creative marketing and PR approaches from their suppliers, and have focused on results that can be measured, compared and improved.

And remember, they're still in business to sell us fragrance-free anti-perspirant, super absorbent paper towels and scented toilet paper rolls. So they'll always be pushing something new, something improved, something not necessarily top-of-mind in our consumer consciousness.

That's why they've started Tremor - an advertising arm of P&G dedicated to examining how to build word-of-mouth momentum among young consumers for products like Cover Girl Outlast Lipcolor lipstick, Pringles and Noxzema. Tremor doesn't break any new ground by focusing on the 1% of youth who are "connectors" in fashion/trends/styles with their peers. It's the same as the influencers or influentials concept floated by other marketing and PR firms.

But P&G has the resources and the budget to back these ideas, and Tremor is making its impact felt. Dreamworks drew upon Tremor's network of 280,000 youth members to search for title suggestions for it's new teen movie. 60,000 responses resulted in 20 identical suggestions; Eurotrip.

About 10 percent of teens who take a seven-question survey about themselves and their social activities and network make the cut. Recruited teens are sent an information kit by mail that includes a notification to parents.

Since she joined, [one teen] has offered her opinion on everything from music demos to facial scrubs. She's also previewed unreleased songs by Avril Lavigne last summer and Super Bowl ads before they aired.

How successful is the idea? P&G is thinking of starting a similar agency targeted at mothers.

(I'm going to add to this tomorrow)