By Cliff Peale
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Procter & Gamble Co. will break with tradition and put a commercial into the 2004 Super Bowl for only the third time in five years.
P&G said Monday it hasn't decided which brand to feature in the ad in the National Football League's championship game Feb. 1, 2004. But whatever brand it chooses, it will be expensive, with trade journal Advertising Age reporting a $2.4 million bill for 30 seconds.
The company has long shunned the Super Bowl, which has turned into a showcase for the cutting-edge creative advertising. The maker of Tide, Pringles, Bounty and Old Spice has preferred lower-key ads that emphasize the product's technical benefits.
But under global marketing officer Jim Stengel, P&G has started to put more creative muscle into its commercials, particularly in the health-care and beauty-care divisions that are at the core of the company's growth strategy.
P&G placed a Tide commercial before the game in 1998, and a Pringles ad after the game in 2001.
Chris Allen, a University of Cincinnati marketing professor who has studied P&G's marketing department, called the ad "hugely symbolic" of the company's attempt to get more creative force into its commercials.
"P&G's going to want to make it rational," he said. "In the P&G world, there's going to be a business case for it as well.
"But if that was the only reason, they wouldn't do it."
Allen said there could be an internal competition among P&G brands to decide which gets the Super Bowl slot.
P&G wouldn't detail its plans for the ad, but clearly is looking to expand its reach beyond the traditional female shopper to the younger demographic.
"It's an opportunity for us to reach a very important group of consumers for one of our brands," spokeswoman Gretchen Muchnick said.
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