Procter & Gamble 375

When one of Procter & Gamble’s top media and marketing execs appeared at September’s Radio Show in Austin, he hinted about increasing the amount of advertising the consumer packaged goods giant places on radio. An Inside Radio analysis of Media Monitors data shows P&G is putting its money where its mouth is.

Across multiple brands, from Aussie shampoo to Tide detergent, P&G spending on radio is up in the third quarter by sometimes staggering percentages.

Topping the list of P&G’s biggest current radio users is its Tide brand, which ran 70,922 spots in the third quarter, more than double the 29,027 that aired in Q2, according to Media Monitors, which tracks radio advertising in 85 markets. In addition to compiling spot counts, Media Monitors also counts actual dollars spent and data provided to Inside Radio shows Tide spent 96% more on radio in Q3 2017 compared to Q2 2017. Year-over-year, Tide nearly tripled its radio spot volume from 18,378 in Q3 2016, when P&G first began using the medium again after a long absence. Third quarter 2017 marks its biggest radio outlay since then.

“We are spending more and you’re going to see more in the next couple of quarters,” John Fix, analyst/manager—North America Media & Marketing at P&G, told a packed room of broadcasters in September during his first appearance at a radio event.

After a decades-long absence, P&G isn’t only back in bed with radio for its Tide brand. Shaving equipment and supplies manufacturer Gillette spent a whopping 504% more on radio in the third quarter compared to the second quarter, according to Media Monitors, while boosting its spot volume from 7,855 to 54,748. Apart from 1,555 spots placed in Q4 2016, Gillette was a radio no-show until second quarter 2017.

P&G is also employing radio to squeeze the Charmin. The toiletries product aired a scant 327 radio spots during first quarter 2017 after almost none in all of 2016. But the number nearly quadrupled to 1,213 in Q2 before exploding to 31,201 in third-quarter. That amounts to an 868% increase in radio dollars in Q3, compared to Q2, per Media Monitors.

Aussie placed 6,500 radio commercials in third-quarter, up from just 474 in Q2, translating to a 769% revenue increase. Aussie ran zero radio ads in 2016.

These numbers are all the more striking when you consider that, apart from medication brand Vicks, P&G has largely shunned radio for decades.

As the world’s largest advertiser, P&G invests billions of dollars in media time. But it and other CPG giants have grown frustrated by narrow digital-ad targeting. P&G wants to speak to everyone, not a narrow group, Fix explained at the Radio Show, which is why P&G has rediscovered radio. “The reason I want to talk to you is because you can speak to more consumers than anybody,” Fix said. “This is what I want.”

It’s no coincidence that P&G cut more than $100 million in digital ad spend in its fourth fiscal quarter ending June 30.

That P&G is back on radio has been one of the talking points for Entercom CEO David Field during presentations to investors about the company’s imminent merger with CBS Radio. “P&G, which used to spend a fortune on radio a zillion years ago, had stopped using radio, by and large,” Field said last week at the Wells Fargo Media & Telecom Conference. “And now they’re back into radio, spending tens of millions of dollars, just sort of starting now as they experiment with changing their media mix for the better,” added Field who attended Fix’s presentation at the Radio Show.

But radio will need to deliver results for P&G to stay on the media plan. CPG manufacturers are notoriously analytical and extremely data-driven. P&G, for instance, has 31 different media data feeds to inform each of its brands about how they’re doing across each media channel. “If at the end of fiscal, I haven’t coordinated a way to make the brands feel good about their investment, next year won’t be as active,” Fix said.

P&G isn’t the only CPG giant to rediscover radio. Frustrated by narrow digital-ad targeting, Unilever, Kao Brands and others have been dipping a toe back into radio waters.

With major players cutting back or questioning their digital ad spends, some are testing radio while others have written the medium into their 2018 media plans, Radio Advertising Bureau CEO Erica Farber recently told Inside Radio. “We think that part of the increased interest is a result of recent concerns regarding brand safety, transparency and accuracy in measurement,” Farber said. “Brand managers and their agencies are understanding that radio has the ability to not only provide the consumer reach and engagement they need but also drive traffic to the retail environments where their products are sold.”