P&G to create first digital roster

World's largest advertiser lays groundwork to shift advertising away from traditional media in Europe.

Procter & Gamble is putting together its first digital agency roster for Western Europe as it gears up to increase its investment in the medium across the region substantially.

The world's largest advertiser has contacted a number of international and local agencies with a brief to present across all brands in Western European markets.

Until now, P&G has allowed individual brands in each market to work with agencies of their choice. This latest move heralds a more strategic central focus on digital.

A spokesman for the FMCG company said: "P&G is conducting a thorough capabilities review of current and potential interactive agencies in Western Europe in order to develop more strategic capabilities in the interactive arena. We are continually looking for best-in-class interactive agencies that would bring the right capabilities, along with expertise and energy, to our brands."

Jim Stengel, P&G's global marketing officer, is one of the world's most vociferous advocates of following consumers away from TV into new communication channels. However, until now, P&G has only invested significantly in online in the US market.

Last year, P&G cut its spend on US television by 8 per cent to $677.3 million, shifting its budget into a variety of non-traditional media, including online. The company has launched new products, including a variant of its Secret deodorants, using primarily online campaigns.

In the UK and Europe, online activity has been more sporadic, although P&G has stepped up its investment in recent months.

The Pringles brand recently launched an online football-related campaign at www.pringleskeepyuppy.com. The push included a competition asking people to submit videos of themselves playing "keepy-uppy" with a packet of Pringles to win a place on the Pringles Dream Team football training camp.

In February this year, the P&G nappy brand Pampers launched an online campaign, created by Saatchi & Saatchi Interactive, to highlight the importance of sleep for babies. Additionally, Vicks First Defence used a viral game from Inbox Digital in March as part of an attempt to get people to see the nasal spray as a year-round product.

In the past, P&G has also used glue London, Arc and Clark McKay & Walpole North for digital campaigns.

P&G has a global marketing budget of $6 billion, the majority of which it still spends on television advertising. In the UK, its brands include Ariel, Fairy, Clairol, Head & Shoulders, Olay and Max Factor.

Comment, page 40.