Tampax Enters Social Networking Fray

NEW YORK Tampax is running its first social network ad campaign, but it’s not on MySpace.

Instead of targeting high-school girls among MySpace’s 160 million members, the Procter & Gamble tampon brand is kicking off a 10-week promotion on Takkle.com, a newly launched social network for high-school athletes.

Tampax is the sponsor of a “battle” on Takkle that challenges high-school cheerleaders to submit three-minute video clips of their best cheers. Users vote on their favorites, and Takkle is awarding the winner $10,000 of cheerleading equipment and apparel.

Niche networks like Takkle hope to take the mass social phenomenon of MySpace and narrow its focus, in the process creating discrete audiences for advertisers to reach. Social networks have cropped up for everything from mothers (CafeMom) to the NPR crowd (Gather.com) to dog and cat owners (Dogster and Catster).

“The reality is if an advertiser wants to target on MySpace, it doesn’t know who it is reaching,” said Takkle CEO David Birnbaum. “There’s no confidence in advertisers in their ability to target their user base.”

The decision to advertise with Takkle, which only launched in December, was made because the site caters to an important niche for Tampax: female athletes. According to a P&G rep, many girls wear a tampon for the first time because of sports.

“That’s how we see the online environment playing a role as a marketing vehicle,” said Flavia Mason, assistant brand manager for Tampax. “That’s where you want to be very targeted.”

Tampax spends very little on Internet advertising, according to TNS Media Intelligence. Of the $41 million spent on measured media, less than $1 million went to the Web.

Tampax is using its BeingGirl.com property to promote the content. It will send out e-mails to its customer database and promote the video battle on the site, which it launched in 2000 as an educational and content site for teen girls. In February, BeingGirl.com drew 526,000 unique visitors, according to ComScore Media Metrix.

The cheerleader battle carries light Tampax branding, but P&G is complementing it with a sponsored group on Takkle. Girls who submit videos to the competition or join Takkle from Tampax marketing e-mails will be automatically enrolled in the BeingGirl.com group.

“It’s not about selling the tampons,” said Mason. “It’s about creating content that’s relevant to teens.”