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Procter & Gamble’s Charmin brand runs first mobile sponsorship

How can brands get their apps noticed?

P&G taps Carat agency to power a multichannel campaign in conjunction with Charmin's sponsorship of the Sit or Sqaut iPhone app

Procter & Gamble Co.'s Charmin, the nation's No. 1 toilet paper brand, has debuted its first mobile advertising sponsorship, working with global bathroom directory SitOrSquat Inc. on its Web site and mobile applications.

The consumer packaged goods giant is sponsoring SitOrSquat's site and iPhone application to help consumers on the go find the cleanest public toilets worldwide. The site and application offer user-generated listings of bathroom locations and ratings, as well as details on hours of operation, handicap accessibility, showers and availability of changing tables.

"SitOrSquat is the perfect partner for us," said Dewayne Guy, external relations manager at P&G, Cincinnati, OH. "We're not going to reinvent the wheel by creating this application. We found somebody out there whose mission matches ours. It creates the perfect partnership."

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SitOrSquat is a New York-based user-generated service that lets consumers find bathrooms with myriad facilities including changing tables and handicap access across 55,000 bathrooms in 32 countries. It styles itself as "a place to find and record bathrooms anywhere in the world."

Users who download the SitOrSquat application from the Apple iTunes Store to their iPhone can add their review when they have used one of the featured toilets. A "Sit" rating implies that the bathroom is clean and "Squat" means that it is not.

P&G's Charmin sponsorship of SitOrSquat

Charmin takes baby steps on mobile

Got your back
The Charmin sponsorship is currently live on the Web site and iPhone application. A presence on the BlackBerry application may follow, along with a presence on future Windows Mobile and Android applications.

In addition to images of its two bear-cub mascots, Charmin also gets a banner ad on the SitOrSquat iPhone application that says, "Gotta go? Relax … we got your back." The banner features the red bear and the Charmin logo.

Clicking on that banner ad currently takes consumers to a mobile landing page with a big bear on it. Soon, SitOrSquat will introduce a more comprehensive brand image including the possibility of point of purchase and enriched content for Charmin once the ad is clicked on.

Is a mobile application right for every brand?

Action at the bottom

Another banner shows the blue bear with a thumbs-up sign. Copy reads, "Just like home." The Charmin logo is adjacent. A click-through on that unit again takes users to a mobile landing page with a bear on it.

The banners occupy the bottom strip of every page in the iPhone application.

"What we get out of it is the impressions from that activity," Mr. Guy said. "We're really trying to support the effort that SitOrSquat is putting out there."

P&G has typically promoted its Charmin tissue across television, print and in-store media. Online sponsorships, outdoor events and now mobile advertising are designed to keep the brand front and center of its target audience of moms and families wherever they are, at home or travelling.

P&G ad agency Publicis handles the Charmin brand. Media services shop Carat was responsible for the SitOrSquat media buy.

Creating buzz is a major offshoot of Charmin sponsorships.

For example, P&G took 4-wheel trucks to 15 state fairs and the Super Bowl. The Potty Palooza, as the effort was called from 2000 to 2005, offered portable toilets with Charmin toilet paper for use at these venues.

In fall of 2006, P&G inaugurated the first fully-staffed deluxe bathrooms in New York's Times Square. Housed in a rented building, the 20 Charmin-sponsored bathrooms offered family-friendly facilities to more than 330,000 visitors during the busy holiday season.

That effort, which included flat-screen TV sets and a lounge area in addition to the bathrooms stocked with Charmin toilet paper rolls, continued through last year.

Not surprisingly, the "Charminized" Potty Palooza and Times Square bathrooms attracted considerable media attention and, consequently, substantial brand mileage.

Squat box
SitOrSquat offers similar appeal to P&G.

While the service's Web site and iPhone application went live in October, the BlackBerry application mid-November.

As of April 9 morning, SitOrSquat has recorded 81,094 downloads for its iPhone application and 13,652 downloads of its BlackBerry version.

The number of total unique visitors to the wired Web site at http://www.sitorsquat.com is estimated at 1.2 million since launch.

Also, the number of total searches across online and mobile platforms is estimated at 7.2 million.

Among the most commented-on bathrooms in SitOrSquat's database? Don Giovanni, an Italian restaurant in New York's Manhattan borough, and a pub called Pony House in Leeds, England.

The most popular area of search is New York's 34th Street and Avenue of the Americas, or the district around Macy's department store, Penn Station and the Empire State Building.

Jonathan Glanz and Danika Landers founded SitOrSquat. The idea was to offer a user-generated mobile service that targeted women with children and older people with continence issues to help them find clean bathrooms when they are on the move.

A key attraction of the SitOrSquat iPhone application is the consumer's ability to save multiple searches, including two out of the box - one in the Open Now category and the other about availability of changing tables.

The iPhone and BlackBerry applications as well as SitOrSquat.com are designed to enable user feedback with ease.

"There's one thing we know about our people who use our service: they are not techies," Mr. Glanz said.

The only bathrooms that Ms. Landers uploaded in the SitOrSquat database were 140 public toilets that she personally visited in addition to the 4,000 bathrooms in the Starbucks coffee shop franchise.

Ms. Landers did not visit all the Starbucks bathrooms, which surprisingly don't get a high rating from visitors.

Travelling consumers added the rest of the bathrooms reviewed and listed on SitOrSquat, including those attached to restaurants, bars, hotels, retail stores and movie theatres.

"We're trying to build a community around this," Mr. Glanz said.

Monetizing that community is how Charmin comes into the picture. Mr. Glanz hopes to parlay the popularity of SitOrSquat's mobile and Web services into more advertising sponsorships.

"There's a lot of opportunities like Purell to paper products to toiletry dispensers," Mr. Glanz said about potential sponsors. "I think Charmin and the P&G products could be incredible sponsors."

In a way, SitOrSquat is competing with services such as restaurant reviewer Yelp, but with the added advantage of a unique niche and an audience eager to upload comments to their iPhones and BlackBerrys.

"Looking for a restaurant is a luxury, but looking for a restroom is a necessity," Mr. Glanz said.

Charming Charmin
The Charmin sponsorship currently does not appear on the BlackBerry application. But that has to do more with the application's format than anything else -- the BlackBerry has five platform lines with different screen sizes that hinder application of a unified set of assets.

Still, the brand managers at P&G's Charmin are watching keenly to gauge consumer response to its mobile overtures.

Like many consumer packaged goods brands, Charmin has to constantly generate ideas that attract new customers while retaining the loyalty of existing users of its line of toilet paper.

The Charmin line covers Charmin Ultra Strong, Charmin Ultra Soft, Charmin Basic, Charmin Plus and Charmin Fresh Mates. The rolls come with different strength, softness, weaves, lotions and sizes.

Charmin competes with Kimberly-Clark Corp.'s Kleenex Cottonelle and Scott and Georgia-Pacific's Angel Soft and Quilted Northern brands as well as eco-friendly Seventh Generation and private-label toilet papers from retailers.

Mr. Guy did not specify the cost of sponsoring SitOrSquat on mobile and online. But he did confirm it was a paid sponsorship.

"For a brand like Charmin, we're testing and learning about mobile," Mr. Guy said. "What we do know is that we need to be in places that are relevant from a mobile or digital standpoint. That's why this relationship with SitOrSquat is important -- it's relevant at a point of need.

"For us we're learning and as long as we continue to look for those ways to connect with our consumers, mobile fits within that," he said.

While Charmin has its own wired Web site at http://www.charmin.com, it does not have a mobile site, mobile application or a common short code for SMS programs.

But there is no doubt that mobile has become an area of interest for Charmin, especially given that P&G is one of the largest mobile advertisers nationwide.

What's the one thing that P&G keeps in mind with new outreach efforts, especially now that mobile is in the picture?

"Relevance," Mr. Guy said. "We're not out there to do stuff for the sake of doing it. It needs to fit within our consumers' lives if we're going to do things where it makes sense for her, whether it's mobile, digital or any other aspect of our marketing mix."

Editor in Chief Mickey Alam Khan covers advertising agencies, associations, research and mobile marketing issues, as well as column submissions. Reach him at mickey@napean.com.

 
Related content: Advertising, Procter and Gamble, Charmin, Dewayne Guy, SitOrSquat, Jonathan Glanz, bathroom, toilet paper, mobile applications, Apple iPhone, BlackBerry, mobile marketing, mobile

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