How P&G avoids the content marketing "crap trap"

Content creators might be familiar with or even guilty of falling into the "crap trap". This is especially given that we are in a time where companies are constantly publishing content to engage consumers on various channels. This, however, creates the problem of having too much content which isn't always the most entertaining or engaging.

According to Sujay Wasan, VP and CMO of P&G Asia Pacific, content marketing requires "mastery, technique and imagination to make brand ideas meaningful and memorable".

Brands need to steer clear of creating content for the sake of it and go beyond noise-creation, he said. To do so, more focus needs to be put on creating the right content on the right platform. He said:

We are in the business of reaching millions of people every day to inform, change behavior, and build our brands. It’s a noble business that should not accept mediocrity.

While dynamic real-time marketing in the digital age allows brands to target consumers through real-time data-backed insights, consumers today are often bombarded with countless advertising which is further beset by issues such as viewability and load times.

To really stand out and avoid falling prey to "crap trap", it is imperative for brands to focus on insight-driven engagement. He added:

The consumers we’re trying to reach are increasingly voting with their fingertips and saying that too much of our ads are unwanted, uninteresting, uninspiring, and therefore ineffective.

He said that P&G was no stranger to this.

"We were producing thousands of new ads, posts, tweets, every week, month and year. Eventually, we realised that as the world was getting louder in ad campaigns, we were merely adding to the noise," he said. As such, the company decided to "stop the noise and step up [its] game".

Wasan's views were also similar to those emphasised by Jon Moller, P&G chief financial officer who said that P&G will set a higher standard on advertising quality, with more of a focus on brand performance claims that communicate a brand’s benefits and superiority to create awareness and trial. Meanwhile P&G's global chief brand officer Marc Pritchard also said one of the ways P&G raises the standard for creativity is to "express the brand as a masterpiece painted on a creative canvas".

Wasan added:

It is only when we raise the bar on creativity can we unlock the growth for our brands.

But raising the bar on creativity is easier said than done. One way to do so is by really listening to your consumer and using the data gathered from real-time analysis to create the campaigns the audience wants. It boils down to understanding the consumer, what motivates them and what will drive impact and get consumers’ attention," he said.

"Instead of scrambling to churn out content marketing quickly to meet the fast-pace of the digital era, brands should take a step back and evaluate their priorities," he said.

Another way to raise the standard for creativity is to embrace creativity as a human endeavour. Unlike technology, humans have the ability to conjure ideas that tap into emotions. He advises companies to foster a positive relationship with their agencies to discover human insights and transform them into great ideas. At the end of the day, it is important for both parties to collaborate and always keep their consumers in mind.

"It is important that we come together, and remember the most important audience we serve – our consumers," he added.

Bank on your core idea

To really create a campaign that hits hard, Wasan is of the view that an original brand idea that defines crux and performance of the brand is necessary.

Using that, brands have the opportunity to creatively express their "diverse personality" across various mediums to garner consumer attention. This helps to "explore the boundaries" in search of new ideas and creative moments that help the brand remain relevant and fresh. He added:

Wherever you are on the creative canvas, make sure that it’s consistently seen as your brand.

For example, SK-II's creative canvas revolves around the idea that women can alter their skin and lives. As such it created the "Dream Again | SK-II #changedestiny" global movement. But P&G was also aware that while the movement featured beautiful creatives about SK-II product and its benefits, most women were still not thinking about spending hundreds of dollars on skincare every day even after getting exposed to its ads.

The brand realised it had to tell stories that its target audience could identify with. This led to the company creating “Marriage market takeover”, a video that covers the pressure the women face from both their parents and society to marry young, and chronicles their road to acceptance. According to P&G the campaign was launched to empower single women and not let the pressures of the world dictate their future.

The campaign's content spread like wildfire with global media such as BBC, Bloomberg, Vogue reporting on the campaign. To date, the spot garnered over 2,528,310 views on YouTube. Currently it has 19k likes on the platform. Despite the campaign's global recognition and success, P&G did not comment on what sales figures could be directly attributed to the campaign.

Meanwhile, another recently launched campaign under the #ChangeDestiny movement was “The expiry date” campaign - a follow up to the viral “Marriage market takeover” campaign in China, where the skincare brand wanted to shed light on the pressure women face as they age.

In the new spot, SK-II turns the proverbial expiration date many women feel like they have into a real one. The film follows the journey of three women as they pass through stages in life with growing internal and external pressure of timelines placed on them by society – manifested as an increasingly visible physical expiry date imprinted on their forearm.

P&G added that given the campaign's recency, it was not possible to comment on the direct impact on sales.

Commenting on creating content that resonates, Wasan added it is important for marketing professionals to remember:

The joy of creativity brings about a positive energy force for people to find deep human insights, and transform them into great ideas.