P&G picks Charmin for Super Bowl ad


By Cliff Peale The Cincinnati Enquirer

Procter & Gamble Co. has picked Charmin for its one commercial during the Feb. 1 Super Bowl – its first ever in the world’s biggest advertising showcase.

P&G announced the results of an internal competition for the ad today. The 30-second Charmin Ultra commercial, with a value of $2.4 million, will air during the game’s first half using the tagline, “The softest and strongest Charmin for your end zone.”

The competition “took us all out of our comfort zone,” Charmin brand manager John Brase said. “We’ve got to entertain the consumer. And to entertain the consumer, you’ve got to be a little more on the edge than the normal P&G ad.”

The contest is symbolic of newly aggressive advertising for P&G, which has long spurned the flashy Super Bowl ads for the fact-based, product-oriented commercials for its stable of about 250 brands. P&G is one of the world’s biggest advertisers, spending almost $4.4 billion last year.

The contest started in late summer, and Brase gave the Publicis Worldwide ad agency essentially a blank sheet of paper to design the ad. The Charmin brand team included only one criteria in its “creative brief”: Identify Charmin as the “softest and strongest” bath tissue.

Traditional P&G creative briefs would have included about half a dozen criteria, such as a target audience.

“I call it taking the creative handcuffs off the agency,” Brase said.

The commercial was shot in mid-October in the Skydome in Toronto.

P&G chief executive A.G. Lafley, global marketing officer Jim Stengel and others judged the ads several weeks ago at Stengel’s house. They dubbed the competing commercials into an old Super Bowl tape, and watched while eating chicken wings and drinking beer to “create the consumer experience,” P&G said.

Other P&G brands competing for the spot were Crest, Mr. Clean AutoDry, Prilosec OTC, Pringles and Swiffer. P&G expects all of the ads to run during the next year. Pringles and Swiffer were runners-up and will have the opportunity to air their ads during the Survivor episode immediately after the Super Bowl.

P&G paid less than the market price for the commercial, because it was part of a larger deal with Viacom Inc., parent company of CBS, the network airing the game.

Shares in P&G closed at $96.51, down 28 cents.