Procter & Gamble Hits New Yorkers Hard

Cindy_SeebeckIn a first of its kind campaign for Procter & Gamble, the consumer products behemoth has been hitting New Yorkers hard with a multi-product Out of Home campaign, called #NYTough, designed to have a unique appeal to New Yorkers.   Subway riders have been exposed to train takeovers with messages like  “Finger painting playdates in East Village apartments are tough-Bounty is Tougher”  and “Strutting through SoHo with dandruff is tough-Head and Shoulders is Tougher.”  P&G brands involved are Bounty, Crest, Dawn, Febreze, Head & Shoulders, Pantene, Secret and Tide.

This geo-targeted, multi-brand campaign, designed to appeal to New Yorkers’ sense of self and place, is unusual in that all of the advertised P&G products have national appeal and distribution.  Is P&G taking a play from Warren Buffett’s “hyper- local” newspaper playbook?  Buffett has been known to punch the importance of local newspapers, saying “Wherever there is a pervasive sense of community, a paper that serves the special informational needs of that community will remain indispensable to a significant portion of its residents.”

Is Procter & Gamble trying to desensitize consumers to the plain vanilla national campaigns for their products that we have all become accustomed to?  Are they trying to convey that their products are just for New Yorkers?  Why are New Yorkers any different from people in Detroit, Pittsburgh, or Boston when it comes to dirt, hair cleanliness or tooth decay?  Do consumers buy into this ploy?

Perhaps lending a local sensibility to national brands can produce effectiveness. I recently saw an ad in my local paper The Suffolk Times – for Corcoran Group Real Estate.  Their tag line is “Broad Reach. Local Knowledge.”  The ad, a 1/3 strip, includes a local address and phone number for the realty office located around the corner from my home.

Here it seems to me that Corcoran wants their clientele to know that they can handle their realty needs in their own back yard, as well as anywhere life takes them.  Like P&G, they are showcasing to Eastern Long Islanders that they are your neighbor, yet they have a much wider footprint to help you if and when you need it.  Hyper local, yet national in scope, too.

From a media buying perspective, each of these local efforts for national companies is quite interesting.  Why would P&G give up the efficiencies of a national buy to pay a premium buying local media?  Do they feel that by appealing to New Yorkers’ sense of self and place that their ROI will increase and offset the premium to purchase locally?  Are they hoping that the campaign will go viral, and by purchasing local media in the largest DMA in the country, that New York’s large population base will help propel the social media forward faster?  And why would Corcoran not utilize a national ad that could be used in any paper across the country, which would allow them to take advantage of national efficiencies?  Does it follow the model of the automotive business, where an ad is paid for by dealer dollars supplemented by the corporate office?  Or is the individual Southold office paying for the Corcoran ad from their own budget?

These are just two examples of national companies running local campaigns.  Is this the start of a trend?  Are there other companies soon to follow?  Will the trend extend beyond local newspaper and OOH into broadcast as well?  Will this put inventory pressure on the top local markets and begin to affect overall pricing?

Although it is hard to know the real genesis of these campaigns without “being on the inside”, it is my opinion that P&G is trying to test the viability of local OOH and its ability to drive social media performance and ultimately ROI.  By making the creative New York centric, they are making every effort to allow the campaign to engage New Yorkers and go viral.  If that happens, then the ability to analyze the data is sure to show that running local OOH Ads can engage consumers.

Whether or not it translates to sales is uncertain.  Think about it, are you really going to run out and stock up on paper towels after seeing this Ad just because it talked to you Mr. New Yorker?  Maybe, but more likely, you might be willing to engage in the social aspect of the ad and that’s it.  We’ll continue to ride the subway in anticipation of a new iteration of this campaign.  However, I’d be surprised if we ever see that.  The products advertised are national brands and should be supported with national media to drive overall efficiencies and ultimately, ROI.

For Corcoran Realty, my sense is that the Ad I saw in Mattituck is a local Ad placed by the Southold realty office.  They controlled the space buying and the creative execution.  Which, from my perspective, is an excellent way to reach both the local farmers, vintners, and those that hail “from down west” in Manhattan.

With over 30 years of experience in Integrated Media, Cindy Seebeck is a formidable practitioner with her fingers in every medium from spot TV to Digital OOH.  She plans and executes holistic media campaigns for Underscore Marketing across a wide variety of clients.