P&G Tests Interactive Game to Promote Brands

Procter & Gamble is testing an interactive game on several web sites to raise consumer awareness of three major brands.

P&G hired Cincinnati-based Adternity's Adversity game to quiz customers on their knowledge of offline marketing messages for two Tide products, Iams pet food and Pur water filter products.

“The game takes advertising that is already developed and incorporates it into an online trivia game that's really about advertising,” said Jay Woffington, CEO of Adternity. Woffington, a former brand manager at P&G, formed Adternity last June with two other former P&G executives.

The Adversity game, which will include non-P&G brands in the future, is running on online promotions site Trancos.com, which gives Adversity an audience of 3 million unique monthly viewers. It is also running on several smaller sites that have less than 500,000 unique monthly viewers.

P&G executives did not release early figures on how many have played the game, but Woffington said preliminary information shows that the game “increases purchase intent, product recall and strategic recall … significantly better than banner ads and television commercials.”

“Compare it to the banner ad model, where everyone is seeing poor click-throughs. The priority [for P&G] is how to get people to learn how we improve our products. It's hard to break through the clutter in TV advertising and traditional banner ads,” said Bob Gilbreath, assistant brand manager for Tide at P&G.

P&G is promoting ad messages for fairly new products TideKick and Tide Rapid Action Tabs in one “round” of the game.

Depending on their age, consumers receive questions on the two Tide products.

“Before the game even starts, there is some segmentation,” Gilbreath said.

If the consumer is less than 25 years old, for example, he will receive questions on Tide Rapid Action Tabs, laundry soap tablets that “fit in your pocket,” primarily targeted to college students. “It's a new innovation, and young people usually pick up new innovations quicker,” Gilbreath said.

Consumers older than 25 will likely receive questions on TideKick, a stain-treating, liquid detergent-filled device.

Then, players of the game (viewable with Macromedia Flash and Quicktime) are further segmented by their knowledge of the product. The first phase of the game lists seven words associated with the product name. If they choose the correct word, meaning they have heard of the product, they are routed to questions on offline marketing. One question is, “In our TV commercial, did you know that we have a superiority claim for TideKick, that it gets out more stains than any other detergent?” People who choose “yes” are routed to four or five questions about the superiority claim.

Those who are not aware of TideKick are directed to “education and habit-forming” multiple choice questions and match games to educate themselves about the product, such as directions on how to treat clothes using TideKick is one example.

The patent-pending technology of the game allows P&G to measure consumer awareness of certain products, segment customers and deliver tailored messages. “We can measure awareness of different parts of the equity and tailor the delivery of messages to make them more relevant to consumers,” Woffington said.

“This goes so far beyond that interruptive method [of advertising], where you're actually getting to interact with people on a one-on-one basis,” Gilbreath added.

In the Iams round, P&G is promoting Iam's Active Maturity line for cats and dogs, funneling different questions to dog owners and cat owners. “I will know whether they have a kitten, puppy, dog or cat as they go through the questions,” Woffington said.

Although the game players are not typically rewarded with discounts or other rewards, many have opted to play it. “The reward is that it's fun. The questions are designed so it's not that you get points if you've memorized something, or that we're urging you to 'buy Tide today.' It's got to be fun,” Gilbreath said.

“Right now, the value is entertainment. Seventy-five million people visit online gaming sites: That's where consumers are spending time,” Woffington said.

Packaging the three brands in one game is also cost-effective, Gilbreath said. “A lot of companies are spending millions to develop games to promote their products. This will be a more effective way for us to learn,” he said.

The interactive game could work well for other brands, such as Pringles, in the future, Gilbreath said. In addition, Woffington foresees the game being used by brand managers to help “close the purchase loop.” Consumers who play the game could submit their e-mail addresses to receive a sample of the product, for example.

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