Brand Building

Thank You, Mom – Thank You, P&G

Olympic Ad Campaign Brings Home the Gold

The Olympics not only deliver sheer competitive drama, but also a global gold medal marketing platform. Among the many household brands that are sponsoring the Winter Games in Sochi, few – if any – can match the emotional impact and integrated digital power of the P&G “Thank You, Mom” campaign. If you haven’t seen any of the commercials in the series, here is “Pick Them Back Up”, with more than 16,000,000 views on YouTube:

Produced by Wieden + Kennedy, this heartwarming piece is a follow up to the award winning “Best Job” from the London Games. In fact, the new ad is so powerful that even Johnson & Johnson’s BabyCenter, flagship of the competing J&J “Moms” franchise, gives high praise to the new P&G ads – even if they are “a crazy cocktail of emotional manipulation.” Not only is the new campaign resonating with customers and competitors alike, but following through on the “Thank You, Mom” theme, P&G gave away $1,000 Visa gift cards to 375 Olympic moms to help them make the trip to Sochi.

P&G CMO Marc Pritchard notes that their approach has evolved since London. “I really think about it as digital first. We think of search and social and video and display as the first focus. That’s where our consumers are spending their time.” P&G is backing up their digital first approach with significant investment. Chief Finance Officer Jon Moeller noted in their January 2014 earnings call that P&G is planning to allocate more than 30% of its global advertising budget to digital. Moeller explained that “digital allows very effective and tighter targeting of a message to a consumer. If you think simplistically about men and women, in TV advertising that is going to everybody. You can much more carefully target content to a recipient in a digital environment.”

Digital integration around the P&G Sochi campaign includes a very active Twitter page @ThankYouMom, a Facebook page,   , as well as a custom YouTube channel with built-in point of purchase links to  The “Pick Them Back Up” video alone has more than 600,000 social shares according to Unruly. The YouTube channel also houses longer form mini-documentaries on various athletes and their moms, with the stories of skier Ted Ligety and ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White being particularly engaging.

The overall impact of this latest P&G campaign leaves behind a trail of important clues for global marketing success in the digital space.

1. Care About Your Customers: Research = Love
It’s clear that the P&G team and Wieden + Kennedy did their homework for this campaign. Not only is the lead “Pick Them Back Up” ad perfectly attuned to the ongoing struggles that every parent faces raising their kids, but the supporting ads, content, and social campaign all reveal additional nuances, insights, and “ah-ha” moments that keep things from slipping on the ice of mawkish sentimentalism while also demonstrating genuine understanding of what their customers are feeling.

2. Craft Your Content: Reality Drives Curiosity
The “Thank You, Mom” campaign delivers on their strong customer insights with compelling content, seamlessly integrated over a range of digital channels. Real stories, with real athletes, facing real struggles give the content a gritty, compelling nature that pulls viewers through digital channels out of genuine curiosity. In fact, some of these stories may even draw viewers back to their televisions to watch Olympic events they hadn’t planned on watching!

3. Commitment is Critical: Reach Customers Where They Are
In some rare cases, a campaign will go viral with little or no marketing support. However, hope is not a strategy. For the “Thank You, Mom” campaign, P&G is backing up their digital content with a significant advertising spend on YouTube, as well as providing a very active stream of Twitter and Facebook posts throughout the Olympics. While it is tempting to overspend on creative, make sure to balance your budgets in order to leave room for digital marketing support. There are few things more frustrating than to bring a new campaign to life but then have no one see it.

As we’ve seen at both London and Sochi, P&G continues to innovate and refine the art of global customer engagement in the digital era. Will they be able to repeat their magic in Rio? It wouldn’t be as warm and fuzzy, but in the next campaign maybe we’ll even see some Dads yelling from the stands. For now though, Team P&G must be totally stoked by their recent runs down the marketing mountain.


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Jim Walker

Jim Walker

Jim Walker is Director, Marketing Strategy at Cadient, a Cognizant Company. Jim provides innovative marketing insights for a wide range of clients, as well as leading Cadient’s content marketing strategy. He is particularly interested in helping brand teams effectively leverage their digital content. He can be reached at
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