ANA Conference: Word-of-mouth Marketing at P&G - MediaPost Publications

P&G Unit Chief Lights The Way To Entertained Consumers

At Thursday's Association of National Advertisers conference in New York, Steve Knox, head of P&G's in-house word-of-mouth agency Tremor, talked about how marketers succeed or fail when it comes to getting consumers to talk amongst themselves.

by Karl Greenberg, Friday, Apr 18, 2008 5:00 AM ET

If any company has a history in branded entertainment, it's Procter & Gamble.

The company has, for some 70 years, sponsored, produced or otherwise expedited radio shows soap operas--and lately, digital properties.


Tremor works with Procter & Gamble's P&G Productions, a production studio and branded entertainment shop.

Knox says the obvious by way of an intro to word-of-mouth. "First, you have to identify the right consumer," he said. "We chased early adopters for years, and what we got was tremendous variability. Sometimes marketing to early adopters was effective, sometimes it wasn't."

Instead, says Knox, Tremor goes after a group called "connectors." "They are people who have social networks five to six times larger than normal people." What the agency does, among other things, is to tap into a network of several thousand connectors to find out what they think. 


"The danger zone no marketer should inhabit is brands or products that are highly amplified but not advocated: never use the term 'buzz marketing.' Buzz marketing is the danger zone." He says the Office Max Elf buzz campaign--in which consumers create and email to friends, animated dancing elves of themselves during the holidays last year--is an example of sound and fury signifying nothing. "Some 123 million people 'elfed' themselves," he says. "It got incredible viral amplification. But same-store sales declined 7.5%. Don't go for the head fake." 

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