How important is consumer-generated media (CGM) to the modern-day cross-media marketing campaign? Do real-life stories and anecdotes from everyday Internet users hold enough value to other consumers that they also represent a viable way for brands to spread word of mouth? Major consumer product brands think they do, and among them is Procter & Gamble. The company is putting so much stock in the word-of-mouth approach that it's relying on it to promote a new mouth-themed campaign.
The "Life Opens Up" Project - and related "Life opens up when you do" tag line - launched in recent weeks with the objective of creating a correlation between maintaining a healthy mouth and "living life to the fullest." Developed to promote P&G's Crest and Oral-B brands, the campaign revolves around a contest that invites consumers to share their stories of how "a healthy mouth has played a role in opening up to life and the world." To participate, consumers must submit a two-minute video of themselves describing their experience to LifeOpensUpProject.com. They can view and vote on the user submissions - including one made by spokesperson and host of NBC's "The Biggest Loser" Alison Sweeney - on the P&G campaign microsite, as well as on the Crest, Crest Whitestrips, and Oral-B Facebook pages.
The related ad campaign utilizes TV spots, online videos, digital display ads, and something else: blog content that exhibits an unlikely blend of paid media and authenticity. P&G partnered with women's network Glam Media to tap its brand advocate program and invite bloggers and other online "influencers" to create sponsored stories about personal experiences that convey the campaign theme.
On the blog Prior Fat Girl, author "Jen" used the sponsorship as an opportunity to share more about her experience with losing weight. "Before I lost close to 100lbs, people described me as nice. I always smiled…I was nice but never really opened up. I realize it now, my mouth is the gateway to my healthiness journey," she wrote. Pregnancy and motherhood blogger and author of Lil' Miss, meanwhile, shared a story about when her baby daughter learned to smile in earnest and how much of an impact this had on those around her.
These blogs are just two of about 20 that are currently featuring original posts relating to the P&G campaign (Modern Day Moms, StyleBakery, Mommy Posh, and BrideFinds are among them). As part of the effort, each post concludes with a blurb about the Life Opens Up Project and a link to the related contest.
A CGM contest and CGM marketing content are a natural fit, but more than that, P&G's digital marketing strategy demonstrates an understanding of the web 2.0 media that's so effectively connecting consumers with brands. With this campaign, the advertiser does a number of things right: it leverages authenticity while maintaining relevance, employs social media to promote the contest, and rewards consumers for their participation, and eschews traditional digital advertising for more personal messaging (while the Glam Media buy does include rich media ad units, it's the personal stories from bloggers that represent the bulk of the campaign).
Consumers - particularly the women, mothers, and brides-to-be that comprise P&G's target audience - care about the experiences of their peers. They relate to them, particularly when they mirror their own struggles and successes. Because the stories deal with the confidence that comes from having a healthy mouth and teeth, the content is highly relevant to P&G's brands. Each aspect of the initiative demonstrates the same dedication to listening to what current and potential customers have to say. Sending this kind of message to consumers is a sure way to get them to "open up."
Some marketers shy away from CGM, and for obvious reasons. Though it can be unpredictable, ad products like that offered by Glam Media can make it much easier to harness and control. For some consumer campaigns, a thoughtful and well-executed CGM effort is a perfect fit. Is yours one of them?
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Tessa Wegert is an interactive media strategist with Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy and services agencies, serving such brands as Bioré, Bratz, Food Network, illy, Hunter Douglas, Jergens, and Olympic Paints and Stains. An industry veteran, Tessa has worked in online media buying and planning, marketing, and online copywriting since 1999. She is an active freelance writer specializing in interactive marketing who has contributed to U.S. and Canadian publications, including "USA Weekend Magazine," "Marketing Magazine," "The Globe and Mail," and "The Montreal Gazette." She is frequently quoted as an industry expert and speaks regularly at industry conferences and events.
March 19, 2014