Power Of Emotional Storytelling: The P&G ‘Thank You Mom’ Campaign

You know that feeling you get when someone gets you like no one else? It could be a friend, a relative, or even your favourite brand! And just like you share an everlasting bond with a soul mate, the brand you share an emotional connect with is the one you are most likely to remain loyal to. That’s the power of ‘Emotional Marketing.’

According to Adage India: ‘The goal of advertising is not to convince people, or make them think about something. It’s to make them feel something.’ And here’s the big secret that some marketers have discovered – there is no such thing as ‘rational decision-making’! People make decisions based on what they feel and then later rationalize it.

Source: Kissmetrics


And as a result, on a lifetime value basis, emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers. They buy more of your products and services and exhibit less price sensitivity.  One of the key emotional motivators (out of hundreds) is ‘feeling a sense of belonging.’ What better way to make people feel a sense of affiliation to a brand than to craft a compelling storyline that exhibit the Brand’s value system and culture? Creative storytelling that ignites the right emotions in your customers, is necessary to drive home your vision. It not only makes people respond intensely to the brand, but also fuels remembrance and recall.

Source: Cinimage Studios


At the recently held ZeeMelt conference, FCB Joburg Chief Creative Officer rightly said, “As a brand, you cannot choose to remain disconnected from the community around you and their problems.”

Customers everywhere want to know, ‘Why should we buy from you?’,‘Why should we spare a thought for you?’ and ‘‘What are you doing that will make us like you?’ When you share your brand story in such a way that your customers feel ‘we relate to you, we understand you; we are like you’, then they trust your brand. And who can understand you better than your own mom? Procter and Gamble’s award-winning ‘Thank you, Mom’ campaign not only effectively reaches out to its prime TG – moms, but also tugs at every viewer’s heartstrings through positive association.

How did P&G become the ‘Proud Sponsor of Moms’ and why did the moms say ‘You’re Welcome’ in return?

It’s not easy to create a corporate image. To tie up brand messaging of several billion-dollar brands, so that people understand the ethos of the company behind it is a gargantuan task in itself. And if none of the brands have any direct association with the massive event that is being sponsored, then the situation seems almost insurmountable…right? Not for P&G.

Successful brands gather insights and simplify them to make a universal appeal. And this is what P&G did by becoming a ‘proud sponsor of moms’ across the world starting in 2010 when it became a mid-tier sponsor of the U.S. Olympic Team at the Winter Olympic Games, Vancouver. It was P&G’s first ever corporate campaign in 173 years of its history. The massive success of the campaign resulted in the company coming on board as an “Official Olympic Sponsor” for ten years from the London 2012 games through to the 2020 games.

None of P&G’s products had a direct association with athletics. But recognizing the powerful insight that ‘Moms were the unsung heroes of the Olympic Games,’ P&G expressed their gratitude to moms of champions and moms everywhere else by saying “Thank You” for their contribution towards making their children’s dreams come true.

P&G partnered with moms of Olympians and committed to raising USD 5 million to support local youth programmes in many countries through sales and donations.

At the time of the launch of the campaign, P&G Global Marketing and Brand Building Officer, Marc Pritchard said:

“P&G is proud to support the Olympic Movement for the next ten years. But, we know from our successful results in Vancouver that this is about much more than a sponsorship. For P&G, it’s about partnering with the IOC (International Olympic Committee) to make life better for athletes, moms and their families as we take the Olympic Movement to our four billion consumers around the world that our brands already serve.”

Emotions are tricky to convey. If the consumer does not feel the authenticity of the campaign, no matter how well-crafted, it is bound to fail. The ‘Thank You Mom’ campaign did see beautiful advertisements and documentaries that left everyone teary-eyed, but the campaign’s success also had a lot to do with the integrity of the company to support the underlying cause. The honesty reflected in the stories conveyed by P&G, made their Olympic Games videos the most watched of all time.

A mother’s love transcends nations and colour. In fact, that’s the exact message in the latest installment of the critically acclaimed ‘Thank you Mom’ campaign, “Love Over Bias” that premiered on the popular American TV show “The Ellen show” during the 100-day build-up to the Winter Olympic Games in 2017.

The video evokes strong emotions because it reflects the real-life challenges that also need to be overcome by an athlete and his/ her family: prejudices encompassing gender stereotypes, financial differences, race, colour, etc. It underlines the message of equality by touching upon issues such as bullying and discrimination. Viewers are left with a wonderful message about how things would be better‘…if the world could see what a mom sees’.

The campaign has seen several other widely loved videos – ‘Kids’, Pick Them Back Up’ and  Strong’ with emotive taglines such as:

“To their moms, they’ll always be kids.”

“For teaching us that falling only makes us stronger.”

“It takes someone strong to make someone strong.”

But the video ‘Best Job’, unveiled prior to the 2012 London Olympic Games with the extremely relatable tagline of “The hardest job in the world is the best job in the world” became one of the most popular videos garnering over 21 million views. The simple two-minute video acknowledged the profound contribution of tireless mothers in the success of their children in a simplistic yet impactful manner. It also highlighted the importance of focus and hard-work for achieving success.

“A mom’s love of a young child who is an athlete is a universal emotion. These commercials create positive feelings. When consumers think about the brand, the feelings will transfer over.”  –Karen Machleit, Head of the Marketing Department, University of Cincinnati

According to reports, 74 million viewers watched at least one digital ad or video from the campaign during the year with an estimated $500 million in added sales. Created by the acclaimed director Alejandro González Iñárritu, and shot over four continents, the film won the Emmy for Best Primetime Commercial, as well as two Gold Lions and three Silver Lions at Cannes.

A form of ‘equity advertisement’, the product is not the hero in the campaign, but the underlying message is. Focussing on subliminal messaging, the individual P&G brands appear in the ads but not in an in-your-face-manner. It has been proven that such forms of hidden branding succeed in persuading customers through their sub-conscience.

Source: alhusayn.wordpress


Another important feature of all these ads is that, that you don’t get to hear conversations in them. Amazing visuals ably complemented by beautiful background scores up the emotional quotient considerably, triggering nostalgia. You either miss your mom or your child. And studies show that nostalgia can make one more willing to spend money on consumer goods and services. The lack of verbal language also adds to the universality of these videos.

When the creative team of Wieden + Kennedy, the agency that backed the P&G campaign since its inception was asked why people still felt the power and creativity of the campaign so many years after its launch, they said:

“We have a great team, clients included. Everybody wants the same thing in the end: to make something great that people will really relate to.”

P&G serves approximately 4.8 billion people across over 70 countries. While each brand has its own successful campaign, the global ‘Thank You Mom’ P&G campaign will remain the one that won people’s hearts the world over. An example of a well-executed holistic brand strategy, P&G showed the world how emotional storytelling can be leveraged to garner love, loyalty and revenue from customers worldwide.  It is the reason why the ‘proud sponsor of moms’ is seen as a formidable brand and “a purpose-inspired, benefit-driven company.”  

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We love such campaigns and brand stories that compel the audiences to love the Brand for their values and their vision. If you like this piece or have some feedback for us, please leave your comments below.

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