Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) gears up for Winter Olympics

P&G brands backing 15 Olympic hopefuls so far

CINCINNATI - Four months in advance of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Procter & Gamble Co. is introducing its lineup of athletes sponsored by P&G brands.

Gold medal favorites Meryl Davis and Charlie White, an ice-dance team that won world championships in 2011 and 2013 and five straight U.S. titles, have aligned with P&G’s Puffs brand. The sponsorship was announced at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit Sunday.

“Figure skaters, it’s pretty well documented what our training program is like,” White told WCPO in an interview Sunday. “We have to wake up super early and go into the freezing cold. You definitely want some comfortable tissues there.”

Puffs is sponsoring not only the athletes but the “kiss and cry” area where skaters sit after a performance while they wait for scores.

“It can go well. It can go poorly. There’s a mix of emotions that are (on display) in that area, which is why it’s called kiss and cry. So, Puffs is really a perfect fit for that area,” Davis said.

P&G ramped up its Olympic sponsorships in 2010 when it signed a 10-year deal with the International Olympic Committee, making it one of 11 worldwide corporate sponsors that each commit an average of $25 million a year in rights fees. Others in The Olympic Partner program include Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Visa, G.E. and Dow Chemical.

At the London Summer Olympics in 2012, 13 P&G brands sponsored 28 Olympic athletes in multi-layered marketing programs unified by the award-winning “Thank you, Mom” campaign. It included a two-minute commercial that celebrated the sacrifices mothers make for their athletic children, tugging heartstrings while tagging P&G as a “proud sponsor of moms."

The mom-centric advertising appears likely to continue at the Winter Games, based on a four-year partnership announced with Hockey Canada last week. P&G will fund “grass roots to high performance” hockey programming and develop profiles in which Canadian athletes celebrate their moms.  P&G is sponsoring 12 Canadian Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls at the Sochi Games, including two-time gold medalist Megan Agost-Marciano and John Tavares, one of Canada's best hockey players.

Earlier this month, P&G’s DayQuil and NyQuil brands paired up with U.S. Alpine skier Ted Ligety. More announcements are expected this week involving U.S. athletes.

One advantage gained through the sponsorships is that P&G can amplify its marketing messages by sharing content with social media followers of the Olympics generally and the athletes specifically. One P&G executive told the Business Times of Singapore recently that the 2012 London Olympics recorded 20 billion impressions , a measure of how many times P&G’s Olympic ads were played.

P&G has claimed the London campaign delivered a $500 million sales lift to its brands.

Figure skaters Davis and White have a combined Twitter following of more than 28,000. Several U.S. athletes and P&G brands saw their social media audiences grow during the London Olympics.

“We’re hoping to amplify the message and the passion that Meryl and Charlie bring to figure skating and the partnership,” said Marie Bonaccorse, community manager for P&G’s family care brands, Bounty, Charmin and Puffs. “We’ll be using a lot of different methods from Facebook to Twitter. But we’re looking to amplify that relationship and bring that passion to light …  and show the world how amazing these people are.”

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