Interesting developments this week from Proctor & Gamble and Mothercare, both of whom have, in different ways, taken steps to address the question of how to have vibrant online communities around their brand(s).
In Mothercare’s case, they have bought a ‘pregnancy and parentin g social media site’ called Gurgle. P&G have taken the build rather than buy route, working with an agency to create an ‘umbrella community site, aimed at savvy mummies’, called supersavvyme.com.
g social media site’ called Gurgle. P&G have taken the build rather than buy route, working with an agency to create an ‘umbrella community site, aimed at savvy mummies’, called supersavvyme.com.
Both potentially valid routes?
The nub of the problem for marketers in the social media world lies at the junction between the brand owners commercial interests and messaging, and the community’s ‘s
ocial activities’ - forums, discussions, blog posts etc. No-one minds a supermarket’s brand on a high-street fascia, but the same brand in the classroom (for example) is much less acceptable (“What did you learn in Easyjet Geography today, kids?”). It’s a question of context.
On this measure, P&G’s supersavvyme.com s
ite looks like a big fat FAIL. Why? Well let’s take a look at the Home & Garden channel, and its ‘The latest Tips' (see right), where someone called Kate has posted five Tips on a range of topics such as herb growing made easy and the collection of rain water for your garden. So far so innocuous… but look at the Tip titled 'Clean the floor in one swipe': 'Don’t waste time lugging a bucket and mop upstairs – swipe floors clean in a hurry with hygienically disposable Flash Express Floor Wipes’. Crikey, hang on Kate, for a moment there I nearly thought you were a housewife, but let me guess, Flash… yes, it’s that same Flash that’s owned by… P&G.
Oh dear. Also, there’s very little content (i.e. no real community yet) but endless banners for P&G products. It’s hard to see how, other than through the relentless distribution of coupons, samples and special offers, P&G are going build the site to any significant scale. But being P&G, there will undoubtedly be both a plan and the funds to execute on it, so we’ll watch how the supersavvyme brand develops with interest. I suspect the underlying objective might well be datacapture for DM.
As for the Mothercare Gurgle acquisition, it’s much easier to see how the existing, vibrant, community on this site can be of value to the Mothercare mothership. And the commercial content and promotional offers on-site sit very comfortably alongside the forums, blogs etc. So if the price was right, then nice job!