Nearly a year after its call for interactive media to shape up at its FAST Summit, Procter & Gamble has made several moves that underscore its seriousness about creating innovative online advertising. Sources said last week that the Cincinnati-based packaged goods giant had selected Red Sky, the San Francisco interactive boutique, as its broadband agency of record, believed to be a new assignment.
Neither Red Sky nor Procter & Gamble would discuss the nature of Red Sky's work for P&G, but P&G acknowledged it is working with Red Sky. Currently, a number of interactive agencies work with P&G on individual brands. Grey Interactive is the company's long-time interactive agency of record, playing an overall strategic role in the company's online activities. Those relationships are not expected to change because of P&G's hiring of Red Sky.
Word of the assignment to Red Sky came as P&G made public that it was expanding its ongoing relationship with Yahoo!. Last Thursday, the companies said that Yahoo! will work with P&G brands' interactive agencies to develop deep sponsorships and branding opportunities across its site.
P&G has been working with Yahoo! for three and a half years. Three examples of the integrated sponsorships to be expected in the next six months went live on July 1, in the form of "mini-portals" for Pampers, Pepto-Bismol and Pringles.
"Overall, their objective from the top was to get directly in touch with their customers," said Jeff Mallett, president and CEO of Yahoo!. The Pringles brand is featured in Yahoo! Games, where players can be ranked in branded scoring ladders and redeem points for a chance to win Pringles prizes. Five fictional characters and their summer travels will be chronicled in a Hot Summer Relief site designed to attract a younger audience to Pepto-Bismol, while a community for new parents will be anchored by Pampers.
All three promotions were developed within Yahoo!'s Fusion Marketing Online department, a unit devoted to expanded marketing programs which launched in March. FMO looks to combine content, sponsorship, merchandising and permission-based direct marketing.
Mallett said that, with the assignment, Yahoo! gets "... to see what [P&G] is working toward. We have a very detailed plan in terms of brands and deliverables."