Thanks Mom

“(Women in the 1930’s) wanted to be entertained, they were busy, they were working around the house and when they had an opportunity to sit down they wanted to be entertained. (Procter and Gamble) began to realize (it was important) to provide them storylines, to provide them entertainment…deep characters, rich characters, storylines that actually had meaning that women can relate to. And this is how we got into soap operas…You can try to sell your story or you can try tell your story and that’s what we were doing.”  Greg McCoy – Senior Archivist – Procter & Gamble. Content Marketing Institute: The Story of Content Documentary

As soon as I heard those words, I got emotional. McCoy was referring to Procter and Gamble’s content marketing strategy from the 1930’s “when Procter and Gamble began producing radio content called ‘soap operas.’ They created original content as part of their marketing.”  Content Marketing Institute: The Story of Content Documentary. But it wasn’t soap operas that got me emotional. It was hearing “Procter and Gamble” … “Deep characters, rich characters, storylines that actually had meaning that women can relate to.”  I stopped down the documentary and googled “Thanks Mom.” I watched one of the videos and cried ugly tears. 

Grab tissues. I’ll wait.

“For the 2010 Winter Games, P&G teamed with Wieden+Kennedy, the powerhouse ad agency, created a campaign called Thanks Mom. The emotive and tear-jerking, award-winning ads came to life focusing on thanking mothers for helping their children become champions. Then in a light-hearted way, it lays out some brands that fall under the P&G banner. These brands help mothers and these mothers help you.” Digital Marketing Specialist Smart Insights: Campaign of the week: P&G and The Olympics Thank You, Mom. Smart Insights, July 17, 2018

Wieden + Kennedy said of the campaign, “At first blush, P&G doesn’t have an obvious connection with the Olympics. But every Olympic athlete has, or had, a mom. And P&G loves moms. That became the connection that drove the creation of a powerful idea that would play out across a broad range of content and experiences. We didn’t make the athletes our heroes; we celebrated their moms. We created a fully integrated Thank You, Mom campaign that acknowledged a mom’s rightful place in these Games. The tagline, “P&G, Proud sponsor of Moms” was used to tie in all elements of the campaign. We empowered our consumers by providing a way for them to participate. We developed a unique digital platform for consumers to thank and honor their own moms.” Wieden+Kennedy  P & G: Thank you, Mom. Wieden+Kennedy. July 2010. 

According to Wieden + Kennedy, “Thank You, Mom was the biggest and most successful global campaign in P&G’s 175-year history with: $500 million in global incremental P&G sales, 76 billion global media impressions, over 74,000,000 global views, And over 370,000,000 Twitter interactions.” P & G: Thank you, Mom. July 2010. The case study, Medaling in Media: P & G Proud Sponsor of Mom” list additional top line results:

·  Most successful campaign in P&G’s 175-year history delivering $200MM+ incremental sales (USA) and record-setting ROI results 

· Portfolio linkage increased 11% 

· 33.6 Billion earned media impressions

· 17 Million YouTube views globally 

· Social buzz for P&G’s 3 largest brands increased on average by +66% 

Source: The ANA Education Foundation

For over 90 years, Procter and Gamble’s content marketing strategy – concepts and practices – hasn’t changed that much. While platforms and the way people consume media has drastically changed, the basic premise – knowing your audience, telling deep, rich power stories, staying true to your brand – is still the same. The Content Marketing Institute said, “From radio, to television to digital, P&G has always been on the leading edge of the owned media movement.” Content Marketing Institute: The Story of Content Documentary.

In summary, according to the Harvard Business School case study Procter and Gamble: Marketing Capabilities, “P&G had become known and recognized as a marketing machine. It was the largest advertiser in the world, with 2010 spending of $8.68 billion. From the company’s early exploitation of broadcast media (radio and television) for its soap products to more recent experiments in digital media for its men’s hygiene brand Old Spice, P&G was a seasoned marketer with strong consumer research, a powerful innovation network, and the world’s largest financial commitment to advertising.” Henderson, Rebecca and Johnson, Ryan.  Procter and Gamble: Marketing Capabilities. Harvard Business School Case Collection. May 2012.

If you look at the last 15 years, what has changed is content strategy.  Not the defintion but the tactics.

In 2007, In her groundbreaking article, Content Strategy: the Philosophy of Data, Rachel Lovinger said, “The main goal of content strategy is to use words and data to create unambiguous content that supports meaningful, interactive experiences. We have to be experts in all aspects of communication in order to do this effectively.” Lovinger, Rachel. Content Strategy: the Philosophy of Data. Boxes and Arrows. March 27, 2007.

On behalf of the Content Marketing Institute, Robert Rose published in 2013 a much-needed clarification between content strategy and content marketing. In the article, How Content Strategy and Content Marketing Are Separate But Connected, Rose stated: Content strategy and content marketing are two very different practices. Rose goes on to state that “… content marketing is a marketing strategy — an approach that uses content to deepen our relationship with customers” whereas content strategy seeks to “… manage content as a strategic asset across the entirety of the organization.” Rose, Robert, How Content Strategy and Content Marketing Are Separate But Connected, October 2013, (accessed 30 January 2020) Content Marketing Institute.

Similarly, in 2016, Ann Rockley published an article on The Content Marketing Institute’s website titled Why You Need Two Types of Content Strategist. “This became a watershed moment to separate the strategists who cared more about defining the content itself and its user experience aspects, and the strategists who cared about the infrastructure needed to automate and scale content delivery.” Rockley, Ann, Why You Need Two Types of Content Strategist, Feb 2016, (accessed 30 January 2020), Content Marketing Institute.

The definition of content strategy remains the same, the way content is delivered, the infrastructure behind and strategy itself has changed dramatically and constant evolving. 

One example – Procter and Gamble, like most businesses have a website. But it wasn’t enough for their needs. They created different microsites fully developed with content for their target audience.



“This microsite caters for the company’s Pampers products. Apart from the diaper promotions on the site, parents can read a lot of useful information about taking care of their babies. It has information on sleep, nutrition, skin care etc. It is a useful resource for parents”

“The microsites – created with content strategists – offer several benefits including effective branding, makes the homepage less crowded, makes email marketing made easy, effective search engine optimization and easy to measure ROI.”  Asaolu, Hephzy How Procter & Gamble Boosts Its Business With Content-Rich Microsites Business To Community. March 18, 2015. 

A personal note – I am a feature producer for ESPN. In 2015, I was assigned with directing and producing commercials for ESPN’s coverage of Special Olympics. These commercials aired during commercial time, show content time and digitally. One of these commercials I produced had a “Thanks Mom” theme that aligned with the Special Olympics brand. In 20+ years as a producer, it’s some of my best work. However, after the commercial aired, I couldn’t find the content. There was a Special Olympics landing page on but it was difficult to find. Searching key words for the commercial didn’t produce any results. If you can’t find the content, it’s useless. I needed a content strategist. 

Here’s my “Thanks Mom” commercial.

Published by Miriam Greenfield

I have more than 20 years of experience creating, writing and producing compelling feature stories and documentaries for television and digital media. I am a 4-time National Sports Emmy award winner with more than 30 nominations.

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