Duracell Taps Maggie Gyllenhaal for ‘Power A Smile’

Procter & Gamble hopes to energize its Duracell brand by conducting a nationwide casting call for five young ambassadors to deliver gifts to patients in children’s hospitals this holiday season. The Dark Knight’s Maggie Gyllenhaal is the spokeswoman for the promotion.

The online search runs through Nov. 3 at PowerASmile.com. To enter, parents must submit photos of their child (6-15 years old) excitedly opening or “powering up” a present for the first time. The other requirement is a short story submission describing the “best gift your child ever received and why it made them smile.”

Judges will select five winners in mid November, who will then be invited to visit New York City and meet Gyllenhaal in December. Other prizes include a $500 shopping spree and free supply of Duracell batteries. The ambassadors’ job will be to donate toys and batteries to children’s hospitals in their communities.

Duracell has been struggling. So much so that last year, P&G hired the Blackstone Group to look into a possible auction of the brand, which it acquired as part of a $57 billion takeover of Gillette.

The holidays make up a large potion of battery makers’ sales for the year, with parents being the main target demographic, said P&G rep Kurt Iverson. Duracell has started to advertise heavily and hopes “Power A Smile” will help drive parents to the Duracell brand this holiday season.

Last year’s tie in with Little Miss Sunshine actress Abigail Breslin generated 90,000 Web site visits, plus 4,000 “smiles” uploaded to the ambassador casting call site. Similar to last year’s program, P&G will donate $1 for each “smile” received to children’s hospitals across the U.S.

“This is what I call the online fusion of America’s Got Talent with social cause marketing,” said Robert Passikoff, founder of Brand Keys, New York. “Since it’s all online, it’s incredibly less expensive than doing a TV campaign.”

Last year, Duracell spent $79 million on U.S. media (not including online), nearly half of which came in the fourth quarter, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.