Procter & Gamble Scrubs Soap Operas for Social Media; Should Walmart be Worried?

[tweetmeme]Lightening didn’t strike at the recent announcement, but soap opera fans must have shuddered when they learned that Procter & Gamble, the company from whom soap operas got their name, is dropping their sponsorships after 77 years.  Why?  Because for a lot less money they’re reaching a lot more fans on social media.

Logo for Procter & Gamble. Source of the logo.

Image via Wikipedia

That’s where the action is now and not in the juicy, but predictable, plots of soap operas.  It was bound to happen.  More working mothers, a shift in where people go for entertainment (online), the explosion in popularity of reality TV shows, and the movement of women and men to communities that form on social networks.  P&G’s move was widely reported by the media.  The last P&G-produced soap opera, “As The World Turns,” went off the air in September, according to an article via AP in The New York Times, having lost two-thirds of its viewers.

Social Media as a Sales Channel

As P&G pioneered soap operas in the heyday of broadcasting, it is a leader in the use of social media.  It has a variety of promotions on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and smart phone apps.  The company has 36 “Favorite” pages on Facebook.  But I can’t imagine why 382,212 people would “like” a simple product page for Gain, a soap detergent.

What’s intriguing is that companies are selling directly from their social networks, Facebook in particular.  In the case of P&G, they are using Amazon, a third-party vendor to process orders. When you order a product you get sent to Amazon.

Walmart probably still has a few years before it has to start worrying, but consumer products companies have found a new sales channel and they’re jumping on board big time.

Not that Walmart is a social media slouch, I just found a good price for vacuum cleaner on their Facebook page.  However, I’m not crazy about the company’s crowdsourcing program, which they call “CrowdSaver.”  You only get a good price if enough people “like” a product.  Customers are warned in the rules:  “The CrowdSaver price is only available if the required number of “like” votes is met.”  Sounds almost punitive to me.  You want to know if your promotion is working, but…

Back to P&G which says it’s still exploring new uses for social media.

“It’s kind of the oldest form of marketing — word of mouth — with the newest form of technology,” said P&G marketing chief Marc Pritchard in the Times article.

Leave a Reply


  1. Hi Jeannette,
    What an interesting way of using social media with “CrowdSaver” prices, although it sounds like high-pressure tactics to get the word out. You blog seems to be the place to go to find out what’s happening in the social media world.

    Thanks for the great research and interesting articles you come up with so consistently.

  2. Dolores,
    Thank you so much for the compliment. It means a great deal to me. I’m glad you’re finding my blogs of interest.

  3. This is a very interesting topic. For some reason I am all ears when it comes to the giant that is Wal-mart. And I am shocked but not surprised that some of these soap operas are going bye-bye. Marc couldn’t have put in any better way. That is brilliant.

  4. I too am not surprised that soap operas are dwindling. With the exception of Super Bowl ads, how many people are watching TV commercials. The rule now is to fast forward through them… especially when a show has been dvr’d or tivo’d. Crowd sourcing has become a trend with companies such as Groupon. A daily deal comes to life only if enough people are on board. The companies use it to their advantage. Online shopping is a huge trend and Walmart should be concerned by powerhouses such as Amazon.

  5. P&G tends to be the leader in many things that it does. I will not be surprised if other companies quickly follow. Your comment about Wal-Mart is interesting because what they do really well is logistics. Sounds like Amazon is the logistics for P&G in your example.


  6. This is too strange Jeannette – not your post – but the fact that it is about P & G. I was just writing an article last night for a client and came across another article about how P & G is entering into the dry cleaning business.

    Your post really clearly shows the value of social marketing by giving examples of how the BIG guys are using it. Thanks for sharing your insights!

  7. Thanks everyone for your comments. When P&G makes a move, the world shakes! It is such a behemoth that it has the money to spend to move markets.