Tuesday, September 15, 2009

No you cannot fool your customers P&G... or whoever else

Customer empowerment is nothing new these days. (Nearly) every marketer knows that they cannot afford the luxury of communicating brand value or product proposition without taking the customer into account. Those who don't are a species in danger of extinction. However before they go extinct they run the risk of killing a couple of fine brands painstakingly built by their owners to connect to specific customer groups. Here's an example which was sent to me by a friend; it tells the story of a new packaging of Ariel laundry wash liquid that's supposed to offer "10% more product" to the customer, but in fact contains 0.1 liter of liquid less than the old packaging while promising "18+2 washes", something the customer is expected to swallow as a vast improvement of 10% over the "20 washes" of the old packaging... Somebody who used to work for P&G in the seventies told me marketers and sales people in the house used to say "you can think the consumer is stupid, but cannot tell the consumer they are stupid". Well, we've got news for you P&G: these times are over. Enjoy the slideshow and if you're a marketer who doesn't know better, please read Paul Isakson's vision of the future of marketing.

Ariel Et Les MathéMatiques Capitalistes

View more presentations from alex Papanastassiou.


  1. Hi Alex,
    My name is Win Sakdinan and I work at P&G. I just found out about your post and felt that I should give more details about this presentation as the facts are misleading. The author of the original German presentation (that has been translated to French) has already acknowledged his mistake, distancing himself from the content of the presentation and amending the information on his blog.
    So what happened?
    The author of the presentation did not compare the Ariel bottle from 2009 (+10% more content; 1.4L content equalling 20 wash loads) with the real predecessor from 2008 (1.26L content equalling 18 wash loads), but with an older bottle from 2005 (1.5L content equalling 20 wash loads), that he found in his house.
    The compared Ariel bottles origin from different years and during those years we have launched several new product generations. According to the production code the featured old bottle was produced in the year 2005, the new product is from 2009.
    Our products are constantly improved to fulfil the increased consumer needs. In comparison to the product of the year 2005, new Ariel liquid 2009 offers a formula that has been constantly improved over five years, plus it offers an improved washing result by an even lower dosage per wash load (now 70mL per wash load versus for example 75mL still in 2005). This can be seen on the dosage instructions on the back of the bottle.
    Our constant Ariel product improvements are also reflected in the results of the German Consumer Association “Stiftung Warentest”. Ariel is the only laundry brand which has become the test winner in both the color detergent as well as in the general laundry detergent category.
    I hope I can clarify this misunderstanding with this quick comment and will be happy to discuss it with you if you feel like it.
    Kind regards,

  2. Amazing how standardized the reply of P&G is: got the same text from two people there and the only difference is their names (see next post on this blog).
    Speaks volumes about the degree of discipline and also perhaps about the extraordinary efforts that must be going into aligning all employees to defend and promote P&G's brands. I wonder how much room is left for individual freedom, independent thought and personal opinion...

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