P&G Sponsors Mums: Nearest/Dearest Roadshow Opens Olympic Activity

Today sees the first Procter & Gamble’s ‘Nearest and Dearest’ Roadshow at the Thistle Hotel in Edinburgh to help mothers and families of 2012 athletes support their Paralympians at the Games next summer.


The educational initiative is an early phase in P&G’s umbrella ‘Proud Sponsor Of Mums’ London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic sponsorship activation programme.


Run in partnership with the Paralympic GB Team, the roadshow’s interactive and relaxed sessions aim to prepare parents with a range of best practice preparation and support guides (as well as networking opportunities) to help maximise performance in 2012.


While the ‘Nearest & Dearest’ campaign is spearheaded by a major ‘ticket giveaway’, the kick off October regional roadshows will visit 14 cities across Britain. The objective is to bring together mothers, friends and families of athletes to give them advice on how they can best support their children in the run up to the Games.


We want athletes to be focussed on their performance rather than distracted by worrying about their family. Having the P&G supporting the ‘nearest & dearest’ programme will take the pressure off the athletes, allowing them to concentrate on The Games and providing a framework for the family to support their athlete in the most productive way,” says Paralympics GB Performance Director Penny Briscoe.


P&G will also donate 90% of its Paralympic ticket allocation to the public and will ensure every athletes mum gets to see their son and daughter compete at the greatest show on earth by providing free tickets to their first appearance at London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.


The aim is to look after the ‘nearest and dearest’ up to, during and after the Games and follows P&G research finding that 78% of retired Olympic and Paralympic athletes said their ‘nearest and dearest’ made a positive impact on their performance.


Indeed, P&G research also shows that as well as the time commitment involved (over 100 mums surveyed spend 15+ hours per week supporting their child’s participation in sport or hobbies), mums also recognise the important role sport plays in a child’s life with almost 70% saying it contributes to their physical, emotional and mental development.


The October roll out follows on from September activity which saw P&G join Sainsbury as party sponsor of the family focused Super Saturday Festival to celebrate a year to go until the Paralympic Games. The supermarket giant spearheaded the event, which featured top musicians and Paralympic sport demonstrations, while P&G created the ‘Thank You Mum Zone’.


P&G invited the mothers and families of the 90 athletes taking part in the festival to the VIP section of the zone. Here they were treated to massages, makeovers and an exclusive performance from ‘mum’s favourite’ and P&G ambassador Belinda Carlisle.


The experience also provided P&G to film a series of vox pops with Paralympic athletes and their mothers outlining their role and support throughout the athletes’ sporting and family life. As well as an opportunity for children and the brand itself to thank mums for their support and dedication.


The event took place on 10 September 2011 in London’s Clapham Common and the objective was to raise money for Paralympic sport through the Paralympic Legacy Fund.



Super Saturday also acted as a kick off to P&G’s programme, in partnership with the British Olympic Association (BOA) and The British Paralympic Association (BPA), to support the mums, families and friends of Team GB and Paralympics GB athletes.


These London 2012 sponsorship initiatives all work within P&G’s umbrella ‘Proud Sponsor of Mums’ big idea – which aims to acknowledge the key role Mums play within the family environment.




Sponsoring an abstract idea, like ‘Mums’, is obviously a tough challenge for marketers – something that almost seems both unreal and impossible. And one that some sceptics argue is a cheap form of non-sponsorship that avoids the burden of having to pay for any rights.


But P&G’s route, which involves purchasing the biggest rights out there (the Olympics), to tackling the task is to help individual mums in relatively small but meaningful ways – bringing the brand’s so-called sponsorship commitment to life for real people.


In June the FMCG giant signed on as a sponsor of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, in addition to its April agreement to become a 10-year global TOP programme partner of the Olympics (P&G is the IOC’s personal care and household products category partner).


Activation around these rights will be based on the brand’s ‘Proud Sponsor Of Mums’ big idea which was launched in the USA in 2009 and in the UK earlier this year.


P&G launched the strapline in Great Britain in March/April 2011 (to leverage Mother’s Day) with its first ever UK corporate brand campaign and is part of a widespread global repositioning around the idea that it is mothers who have driven P&G product innovation and marketing so they should be put at the heart of the company, the brand and its marketing.



The 18-month launch activity began with an advertising campaign and a documentary “Making of a Modern Mum” (charting the changing role of UK mums over the past 80 years) and will run right through the London Olympics.


It follows last year’s W+K Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic work for P&G which also rolled out the ‘Proud Sponsor Of Mums’ idea in Canada and the USA. P&G’s own statistics claim that this campaign delivered $100m in incremental sales and a 30% improvement in brand recall for P&G ads.



It might initially be seen as a brave move to use sport to market to women, but P&G has spotted one of the few gaping spaces left in sports marketing.


Unlike many other brands P&G understands that many women watch sport, but feel that sports-related marketing is so male-focused that they are alienated by it. So P&G has moved in to own this space by focusing on flagship sports events that women watch – such as the Olympics and the Super Bowl.


Perhaps the thinking was sparked off by former IOC partner Johnson & Johnson’s Beijing Olympics ‘Thanks Mum’ campaign? Nevertheless, P&G has begun exploiting this idea in a far more comprehensive, rounded and creatively dynamic way.



How will P&G’s competitors react to the US giant’s creation of and domination of this space? Will London be a platform for an ambush-led fight back?




P&G Nearest & Dearest Roadshow:


P&G Mums Ticket Initiative:


P&G ‘Thank You Mums’ Zone:


P&G Proud Sponsor Of Mums UK Launch TVC:


P&G Vancouver Olympics TVC:


Johnson & Johnson ‘Thanks Mum’ Beijing 2008:

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