P&G’s Global ‘Strong’ Spot Relaunches ‘Thank You, Mom’ For Rio 2016 Olympics

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Moms (mums) are back in the Olympic spotlight as P&G launches its Rio 2016 activation with another emotional tear-jerker to mark the 100 day countdown to the Games (and the fact that Mother’s Day on the horizon too is an added launch timing bonus).


The spearhead, global commercial, again produced in harness with agency W+K Portland, is called ‘Strong’ and it reignites the brand’s ongoing Olympic ‘Thank You, Mom’ initiative.


The new spot again focuses on relationship between Olympic athletes and their mothers: this time exploring the theme of support and ‘strength and grace under pressure’ – something that positively helps their sons and daughters deal with the pressure of the international sports stage.


W+K Portland, in tandem with the ad’s director Jeff Nichols (a Hollywood director whose work includes recently released ‘Midnight Special’) tell the story via a series of flashback sequences of mum’s reassuring their children as they deal with problems that span wild weather conditions, car crashes and airplane turbulence, followed by grown up athletes using these lesions to perform at their peak under intense competitive pressure



The campaign message is neatly tightly tied to the tagline: ‘It takes someone strong to make someone strong.’


Launched on 27 April, the core film will run in a full two minute version digitally and in a shorter 30-second spot on TV across more than 30 countries.


The campaign is also being heavily amplified socially across the umbrella brand channels and carrying the #ThankYouMum hashtag,



and the work is being further propagated by both the mainstream and marketing press,




as well as being shaared and praised by the public.



Indeed, in recent years P&G has beaten all other Olympic sponsors in social-media buzz around its ads.


This work extends IOC global TOP partner Procter & Gamble’s ongoing Olympic Games activation which first debuted at London 2012 and continued through Sochi 2014 and included the award-winning and massively-viewed predecessor TV spots ‘Pick Them Back Up’, ‘Kids’ and ‘Best Job’.


The ad sits at the front of a campaign that also includes further TV and digital content, as well as in-store displays, a PR push and social media work.


2016 also (again) sees P&G bring to life its commitment to the best to mums around the world each every day by partnering with a large team of Olympians and their mums right through their journey to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games,


This programme spans 21 countries around the world (including Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, UK, the USA and host nation Brazil) and sees the giant FMCG conglomeratre work with athletes such as Ashton Eaton (USA, Decathlon, Olympic Gold Medallist) and his mum Roslyn Eaton,


Jessica Ennis-Hill (UK, Heptathlete, Olympic Gold Medallist) and her mum Alison Powell, Jaqueline Carvalho (Brazil, Volleyball, Olympic Gold Medallist) and her mum Josiane Costa


Part of this will sees these athletes and their families hosted at the P&G Family Home in Rio, where they will benefit from a ‘home away from home’  that comes with beauty and grooming treatments from P&G brands like Always, Pantene, Gillette and Head & Shoulders (and a free laundry service from Tide).


In addition to the central, parent brand work, at least 18 individual P&G brands will launch their own Olympic campaigns.


Indeed, earlier this month Gillette rolled out its ‘Perfect Isn’t Pretty’ activation in partnership with Neymar Jr (Brazil, Football), Ashton Eaton (USA, Decathlon), Ning Zetao (China, Freestyle Swimming) and Andy Tennant (Great Britain, Team Pursuit Cycling) to tell stories of their journeys to be the best in the quest for gold (see case study).


P&G will measure its impact not just through sales, but also via favourability ratings and relationships with retail customers among other ways – with the ultimate aim of increase brand usage and loyalty and driving sales.




The ‘strong’ idea first emerged after P&G research that found motherhood requires a ‘new kind of strength’ – with 97% of all mums admitting they did not anticipate the demands of motherhood and agreeing they needed to develop greater emotional strength once they became a mum.


This was part of a 2015/6 research project that saw P&G talk with 14,000 mums around the world to help shape the campaign.


The initiative’s key insight, according to P&G global brand officer Marc Pritchard remains that behind every athlete is an amazing mum.


‘Being the Proud Sponsor of Moms is the natural way for us to look at the Games, because P&G brands are part of the journey that mums of Olympians, and all mums, take with their kids every day,’ outlines Pitchard.


‘We see how strong moms are in every facet of their lives, and how their children draw on that strength as they grow. Through our campaign, we invite everyone to join us in saying “Thank You” to mums for the role they play in raising strong children.’


‘Watching this video reminded me of my own mother,’ said gold medallist swimmer Dana Vollmer.


‘I had no idea how much physical and emotional strength is required as a mom until I encountered my first sleepless nights with a new baby. Now, all of the strength my mom showed me inspires how I’m raising my son. P&G always recognises the role that moms play, and that’s why I’m so proud to be a Pampers athlete.’


Speaking at the UK launch of the campaign, brand ambassador and Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis-Hill, now herself is a mum, said: ‘There have been lots of times in training when you feel ‘I don’t know if I can do this anymore’. You’re really fatigued physically and mentally, preparing for an Olympic Games is a really stressful thing and you think to yourself ‘Can I do this?’ or ‘Do I want to do this?’


‘My mum always just says ‘You can do it, it is going to be hard but if you have a hard journey to something, that’s not plain sailing, then the end point is always that much sweeter when you are successful.’


With 4.5 million YouTube views in its first 24 hours (and that’s just the central English language spot), the commercial is not only matching the creative success of its predecessors, but also the social success of previous iterations of the ‘Thank You Mum’ Olympic campaigns.


‘Thank You, Mum’ works because the creative executions connect emotionally, while the underlying message resonates with almost all consumer.


This award-winning and hugely successful strategy first launched at London 2012 (see case study one and case study two), and which then continued at the Sochi 2014 Winter Games with ‘Pick Them Up’ (see case study one and case study two).


This initiative remains a fantastic example of a sponsor genuinely carving out a credibly relevant space in a sports property and then producing great activation that generates and emotive positioning.




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