Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Power of Internet Buzz: Always

Just today I was checking my email and received a forward from a friend. Now, let it be known that I am not a fan of forwards and they normally end up in the recycling bin, but this title piqued my interest.

The email was a forward of a letter to Proctor & Gamble, which may or may not be fictitious, written by blogger Wendi Aarons. In this letter she writes to P&G brand manager James Thatcher about the Always Maxi Pads brand and its current campaign slogan, “Have a Happy Period”. Serious or not, the letter is humorous and appeals to many women. Internet technologies allowed this letter to be spread and it was passed along virally through emails, posted on message boards, blogged about and even printed and brought into offices.

According to Technorati, when I searched the term “Wendi Aarons” there were little to no posts found prior to the past 30 days. This suggests she is not a blogger with known authority. Within the last 30 days, this letter was first posted to Mcsweeneys.net where it was viewed by many people. Unfortunately I was unable to locate the original letter post in the archives at this website. As you can see from the graph below generated by blogpulse, conversations involving “Always Maxi Pads” (and presumably the marketing campaign) have increased accordingly. [There are quite a few spikes in the P&G line, though, most recently the increased chatter is about their pet food recall].

Whether or not this letter was actually sent to P&G becomes of second concern. What this open letter has started is a brand conversation about Always Maxi Pads and Proctor and Gamble. And its not positive. It will be interesting to see if this involves into something more, and if P&G (who as guest speaker Ed Keller said last week P&G recognizes we live in a WOM era and understands “the consumer is boss” according to their pronouncement) will shift any of their brand strategies for Always.



Wendi Aarons said...

Hi, Taslim. This is Wendi Aarons. Just wanted to fill you in: I wrote this as purely a humor piece for mcsweeneys.net. It is on their "Open letters to people or entities who are unlikely to respond" page. It was up for six days, then almost immediately fans of the letter put on blogs, which led to more blogs and then it was even e-mailed back to me within two weeks. Quite a few blogs are calling it "an actual letter", so it has some urban myth qualities now.

Taslim said...


Thanks for responding. This just demonstrates the viral properties of something humorous!


Katie said...

This post is really interesting not only because of the letter's humor but also because of the amount of pass-along that this letter has generated. It really helped to see this increase through the blogpulse graph. As you said, Taz, it just goes to show you how something entertaining and genuinely funny can really take off!

Andrea said...

I just read the letter and was giggling like a schoolgirl at work. While the tone of the letter is extremely sarcastic, Wendi certainly makes a valid point; in that, corporations are out of touch with their target audience. I would also be interested to see if P&G shifts their brand image in response to this consumer-generated content. Especially since Wendi was a 20 year brand loyalist who no longer plans to use their products due to this specific campaign.