P&G has been in the news a lot recently as a YouTube trend went viral of the “Tide Pod Challenge” in which people film themselves eating highly toxic Tide laundry detergent pods. Since January 1st, poison control centers have reported 40 cases of individuals aged 13-19 intentionally eating laundry detergent pods. In comparison, there were 53 cases in all of 2017. This public relations nightmare has followed P&G all year with their CEO coming out with a video reminding people of the dangers of eating their highly concentrated detergent pods.
That was the narrative surrounding P&G until the Super Bowl this past Sunday in which they released several genius ads that totally rewrote Tide’s public image. They wanted to emphasize the ubiquity of their signature detergent and that, in any ad, the spotless clothes were probably washed with Tide products. They included 12 different commercial spoofs during the course of the game and they also brought back some old P&G ads that were fan favorites including Isaiah Mustafa from the Old Spice ads and Mr. Clean.
This is a great example of project management. A project is defined as an interrelated set of activities with a definite starting and ending point, which results in a unique outcome for a specific allocation of resources. Projects are characterized by the fact that they are all unique, temporary, and also requires resources from many different parts of an organization. In this case, P&G’s project was this advertising campaign to help wash their image of the bad PR from the Tide Pod challenge. The project management for this started weeks ago with the planning of the ad from the marketing department, the hiring of talent agencies and production facilities, and the overseeing of the editing and purchasing of time slots during the Super Bowl. The 90 seconds worth of time slots that P&G bought to run these ads cost $15 million not even including production expenses. This amount of resources requires a huge amount of coordination amongst different departments to ensure that nothing goes wrong during the course of the project.
Companies like P&G already have a fairly good precedent set for designing ad campaigns like this as they have hugely adept marketing departments that have been making quality ads for decades now. The reason for this is that their project management is so good at creating project schedules. I would imagine that they have a hugely detailed Gantt chart so that every aspect of the project is aware of their responsibilities and time restrictions. With a project that is intended for use during the Super Bowl, there can’t be any mistakes in calculating slack time or unforeseen costs which means that their project management has to be on top of their calculations to ensure their project is completed on time.