- On Sept. 5, Procter & Gamble and National Geographic released the first hour-long episode of "Activate: The Global Citizen Movement," a six-part documentary series about world issues like extreme poverty, on the National Geographic channel, according to a press release.
- Co-produced by activist organization Global Citizen and production studio Radical Media, the series looks at issues like girls' education, clean water, racial bias, criminal justice reform, disaster relief, ocean plastics and responsible sourcing. The series will air in 172 countries and will be supported by digital content offering ways for viewers to take action.
- The episodes will also feature the work that P&G brands Tide, Always, Charmin and Head & Shoulders are engaged in with partners like Save the Children, the World Wildlife Fund and WEConnect International. Featured in the series are Global Citizen ambassadors, including actors Hugh Jackman, Rachel Brosnahan, Darren Criss and Uzo Aduba, journalist Gayle King, TV and radio personality Bonang Matheba, music producer Pharrell Williams and singer/actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas.
P&G continues its commitment to social causes with the new documentary series while also rewriting the rules for how to market the brands for a major consumer packaged goods company and one of the world's largest advertisers.
With $2.9 billion in advertising last year in the U.S. alone and a global reach for its brands of nearly 5 billion customers, P&G has a massive marketing footprint. Under the direction of chief brand officer Marc Pritchard, the company has been using that footprint to help mark a trail for how advertisers — even ones for mundane products like toothpaste, shaving cream and shampoo — can distinguish themselves by their values. A previous example is the 2017 short film, "The Talk," a depiction of the difficult but necessary conversation every African-American parent has with children about racism. Winner of a Grand Prix in Film at the Cannes Lions festival, "The Talk" has been viewed on YouTube over 2 million times.
"Activate" also exemplifies how P&G is experimenting with new marketing strategies as consumers show fatigue with traditional ads and shift their viewing habits away from TV. Pritchard has also launched a campaign to change digital advertising to be more transparent, effective and brand-safe. As the company has cut back its investments in traditional advertising to focus on more creative marketing, sales have seen a boost.
The company is leveraging original content and influential partners to mix up its strategy for reaching consumers, per the release for "Activate." Pritchard described the series to Fast Company magazine as "unprecedented" in scale while incorporating P&G brands into stories about battling extreme poverty worldwide, such as the ways that the Always, Whisper and Orkid feminine brands are helping to provide education about puberty. But he made clear that while P&G underwrote the series and has its products' efforts included, the content creators retained editorial control.
"Activate" is paired with digital hubs from National Geographic and Global Citizen to deepen engagement by enabling consumers to dive deeper into individual topics and provide ways for them to take action.
Marketers like P&G are embracing purpose-driven marketing as research shows that products demonstrating a commitment to values appeal to younger consumers. However, marketers run a risk of turning off consumers and losing brand value if their commitment isn't genuine.