P&G keeps it in house with branding

Overstreet plugs new-media expansion and TV arm

Procter & Gamble was one of the first advertisers to understand the value of producing its own entertainment to market its brands. Today it uses strategies ranging from basic product placement to the development of original TV series to connect with consumers. Myrna Overstreet, who oversees the company's branded entertainment projects as marketing manager at P&G global branded entertainment, and Pat Gentile, North America TV program manager at P&G Prods., recently discussed P&G branded entertainment and production initiatives with The Hollywood Reporter marketing reporter Gail Schiller.

The Hollywood Reporter: What is P&G's strategy in the branded entertainment space?

Myrna Overstreet: We're trying to partner our brands with media and entertainment companies to help connect with consumers in new and relevant ways. We know the media landscape is changing dramatically, and we're thinking about an entire spectrum of ways we can connect with consumers.

THR: What are some of the most high-profile branded entertainment projects P&G brands have implemented?

Overstreet: Cover Girl has partnered with "America's Next Top Model" over the past several seasons. We integrate Cover Girl as part of the story. Cover Girl has launched the careers of many models, so awarding a Cover Girl modeling contract to the winner is a great fit for the show and the Cover Girl brand. P&G has also partnered with "Survivor" for several seasons, integrating multiple brands as prizes for rewards. This type of integration fits well with the story line while enabling the P&G brands to be the welcome "hero" of the show.

THR: What are some of the original productions P&G has created for its brands?

Overstreet: P&G put together Home Made Simple as a Web site in early 2000 as a place to connect with consumers across our home care brands like Swiffer, Febreze, Cascade, Dawn and Mr. Clean. It was really like an online magazine, an opportunity to give consumers helpful hints and information to make their lives easier. We decided to take it to TV, so we partnered with Discovery Networks, which produces "Home Made Simple." The brands have been very pleased with the results. The show is in production for its fourth season.

THR: How important is branded entertainment to P&G in terms of its overall marketing mix?

Overstreet: We want to use TV differently. We are exploring new-media models that can help P&G brands connect with the hearts and minds of our consumers. We want to leverage TV to connect with consumers in an engaging and positive way where our brands are a welcome part of the consumers' entertainment experience.

THR: Has P&G's production arm (P&G Prods.) produced any programming for P&G brands other than the soap operas?

Pat Gentile: PGP was incorporated in 1949. It has produced a number of different kinds of programs, including soap operas, movies of the week, beauty pageants and the People's Choice Awards. PGP continues to produce the People's Choice Awards, "Guiding Light" and "As the World Turns."

THR: Is P&G's production arm planning to create any new programming for P&G brands? Does it integrate P&G brands into any of its shows?

Gentile: Procter & Gamble Prods. exists to create engaging content that enables our brands to reach their consumers and make meaningful connections with them. So, essentially, PGP will continue to create new content that is relevant to our brands and their consumers.