- Procter & Gamble and Spotify this week started a podcast that features discussions about racism from the perspective of black male musicians. Singers John Legend and Pusha T, along with cultural commentator Cory Townes, appear in "Harmonize," a four-part series hosted by writer Jamilah Lemieux, per an announcement shared with Mobile Marketer.
- The series has a companion playlist called "The Sounds of Harmonize" featuring songs by Legend and Pusha T, along with artists ranging from Billie Holliday to Lil Nas X. The playlist supports the podcast's theme of discussing how music acts as a catalyst for change in racial attitudes.
- The podcast extends P&G's recent efforts to highlight discussions about racial bias against African Americans. Last year, the company's two-minute film titled "The Talk" focused on discussions that black parents have with their kids about coping with bigotry. P&G this year released another short film titled "The Look" that highlights more subtle racial bias against black men.
P&G in the past couple of years has made diversity and inclusion a key part of its ad campaigns, a theme that resonates with Generation Z, the most racially and ethnically diverse demographic group in the U.S. By sponsoring a podcast, P&G can reach that younger, tech-savvy audience on their mobile devices and provide a more in-depth discussion that builds upon the themes of its award-winning short films. Brands that show a broad variety of cultural and demographic groups in their advertising see improved perception among consumers and stock market gains, per a study by Deloitte-owned agency Heat.
P&G's efforts to promote inclusion are reflected in a variety of its recent brand campaigns. The company's Herbal Essences haircare brand last month unveiled a broad effort to help blind or visually impaired people with their daily grooming. The campaign included a voice-powered app for Amazon Alexa and specialized help through the Be My Eyes app that connects people with sighted volunteers through a live video call. P&G's Gillette brand of men's grooming products also has made inclusivity a more central theme in its branding, including a well-received commercial depicting a transgender teen whose father teaches him to shave. Inclusivity campaigns run the risk of alienating customers when they're too negative, as Gillette discovered with its divisive #MeToo-themed campaign that didn't boost sales. Amid heightened competition from direct-to-consumer rivals like Dollar Shave Club and Harry's, P&G this year wrote down the value of Gillette by $8 billion.
For Spotify, "Harmonize" is part of the company's broader strategy of creating original podcasts that differentiate its platform from rivals like Apple Music, Amazon Prime Music, Pandora and YouTube Music. Podcast listenership on the platform grew 39% in Q3 from the prior quarter, as adoption reached almost 14% of total monthly average users, the company said. The global podcast market is forecast to make up 4.5% of all audio ad spend by 2022, hitting $1.6 billion, according to researcher WARC.