Procter & Gamble Aims for Streaming Sports Fans With Olympics Competition Series on Peacock

amazon, black friday, procter & gamble aims for streaming sports fans with olympics competition series on peacock

Procter & Gamble Aims for Streaming Sports Fans With Olympics Competition Series on Peacock

One of the most prominent sponsors of the Olympics wants to use some of its ad dollars to put on a show it hopes will be as must-see as the sports extravaganza itself.

Procter & Gamble, which has enjoyed global rights to use the Olympics and the Games' signature rings in its advertising since 2010, is backing away from the heart-tugging ads it has run in the past that spotlight how the maker of Tide, Crest and Pampers supports athletes and their families. In their place? A new six-episode competition series for NBC's Peacock streaming hub called "The Other Games" that have teams of comedians and influencers vying to win game that involve P&G products including Swiffer and Cascade. The show will debut on Peacock just ahead of NBC's coverage of the 2024 Paris Olympics.

"We are experimenting," says Janet Fletcher, senior director of sports marketing at Procter & Gamble, in a bid to keep up with consumers who are moving to streaming video for entertainment, information –and, increasingly, sports. "We have to be at the forefront. We have to evolve our advertising to be relevant," says Fletcher, during an interview. "If you don't adjust, you're going to be an outdated model pretty quickly." Procter will continue to run commercials during the Olympics that highlight specific brands, including Venus and Olay.

P&G will test its ability to get Olympics fans to binge-watch just as more advertisers grapple with a massive migration of all kinds of TV sports to streaming venues. Live sports telecasts seem to be the only format that continue to bring in the large simultaneous audiences that Madison Avenue craves, but it's not clear that traditional commercials are the best promotional vehicle for a crowd that is seen as significantly younger and more diverse than the cohort that continues to watch traditional TV. Indeed, even ad-supported streaming services run significantly fewer ads than linear venues do.

"Streaming is definitely becoming a more serious complement in any of these big sports properties," says Fletcher.

Amazon Prime Video has boosted the NFL's "Thursday Night Football," and launched a new streaming-only "Black Friday" NFL game. Netflix recently secured rights to stream NFL games on Christmas Day And Roku scooped up a small package of Sunday games from Major League Baseball. And Disney, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery plan to launch a streaming joint venture called Venu that will feature access to all three companies' sports portfolios. To get more involved with such events in ways that consumers welcome, Fletcher says, advertisers like Procter & Gamble have to find ways to become part of the natural conversations that take place.

Procter is relying on Hartbeat, the production outlet led by comedian and entrepreneur Kevin Hart, to help devise "The Other Games." Hart will make an appearance during the series, which will be hosted by Roy Wood, Jr., the comedian and former correspondent on "The Daily Show."

No one wanted the show to look like a collection of product placements. Key to the appeal of the series, which maintains a comedic tone, is "having the products be a character in the story, as opposed to being integrated into the story," says Adam Pulchalsky, a Hartbeat executive vice president who oversees production work for brands. Other marketers, including Pepsi and KFC, have tried their hand at creating content, including a game show on Fox and a mini-movie on Lifetime - all part of a bid to give viewers something they feel augments their viewing experience, rather than interrupting it.

Fifteen different P&G products will appear in the half-hour "Other Games" episodes, with challenges that mirror various Olympic events. Rather than curling, competitors can take part in "swirling" with P&G's Swiffer tool. A "Tide Stain Games" is a nod to the steeplechase. And a "dish-cus" using Cascade will substitute for a discus competitions. Contestants include social-media influencers such as Melissa Tovar, a lifestyle and skincare creator, and Octavia Outlaw, a fashion influencer.

"The Other Games" certainly isn't Procter & Gamble's first foray into content production. The company famously backed soap operas such as "Guiding Light" and "As The World Turns" for decades, and is a partner on "The Gates," a new CBS soap opera with a cast that is largely filled by people of color. P&G has over the years also tried to create commercials that are as compelling as the programs they interrupt. When the CW network debuted in 2006, P&G produced short segments for the ad breaks called "content wraps" that offered hair-care tips and shots of its beauty products in action.

A streamer like Netflix or Hulu might examine even a bespoke program like "The Other Games" for completion rates and number of minutes viewed. P&G's Fletcher says the company wants to determine how much attention the new show generates, and will seek to understand whether the program helped boost the sales of the products that appeared in it.

If "The Other Games" proves alluring, P&G could tap the format in the future, says Fletcher, including during the 2028 Olympics, which is set to be based in Los Angeles. "I have a feeling that this will be one of the things we will strongly consider, presuming it's successful," she says.

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