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In P&G’s “Kids” ad, all of the athletes at the London Games are young children.

P&G seeks Olympic gold

Games expected to produce sales of $500 million

Associated Press photos
Procter & Gamble is using its “Kids” campaign to sell products during the Summer Olympics. P&G hopes the Games drive $500 million in sales.

– If a gold medal could be awarded for Olympic marketing, Procter & Gamble would surely be striving for it.

With the opening ceremony of the Olympics less than two weeks away, the world’s largest consumer products maker has unveiled an ad that shows child athletes arriving in London and getting ready to compete.

In the “Kids” commercial, a proud mom watches her son on the diving board. “To their moms, they’ll always be kids,” an announcer says in the spot, which ends with the company’s tagline: “P&G, proud sponsor of moms.”

P&G is just one of the major companies that pay millions of dollars for Olympic sponsorships and marketing surrounding the Olympics in an effort to attach their names to the high-profile event.

The 2008 Olympics in Beijing was the most-watched event in U.S. television history on NBC and its cable networks: An average of 27.7 million people who saw the telecast over 17 nights on NBC. Companies spent $977 million in advertising during the 2008 Olympics, according to Kantar Media.

P&G, which was not a sponsor in Beijing, is trying to capitalize on those eyeballs this time around. The “Kids” ad is just a small part of the company’s efforts, which began in the spring. The company, which declined to disclose its spending on marketing, has a corporate campaign in addition to marketing initiatives with 34 separate brands ranging from Pampers to Duracell. Additionally, P&G is sponsoring more than 150 global athletes.

“It’s the largest multi-brand program we’ve ever done,” says Marc Pritchard, global marketing and brand building officer at P&G.

P&G expects the campaign to drive $500 million in sales. That’s much larger than the $100 million in sales the company garnered from its campaign at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, the first time P&G was an Olympic sponsor.

But the stakes are higher this time around. Although the 175-year-old company has some of the most well-known brands in the world, including Tide and Pampers, it has lost ground to competitors such as Unilever.

And like many consumer product companies, P&G has been expanding internationally as growth in the U.S. and other mature markets slows. But weakness in Europe and uncertainty about the overall global economy coupled with high costs for commodities such as fuel and packaging, has led to lackluster results.

In its most recent quarter, P&G said net income fell 16 percent while its overall market share slipped 0.2 points, including a decline of 0.6 points in North America.

Now P&G is focusing on its most profitable markets like the U.S., Mexico, Germany and Brazil, among other countries.

The company, based in Cincinnati, also is counting on its Olympics campaign to drive sales in its most profitable countries. P&G worked with retailers in those markets to create multibrand displays in stores, supported by TV and print advertising. It also plans to air the P&G corporate TV spots, including “Kids,” in these countries.