“Thank You, Mom” is a Model Campaign in a Global World

It’s not just an effective tear-jerker. This campaign is a powerful lesson in cross-silo collaboration.

P&G’s “Thank You Mom” Olympic marketing program was a brilliant effort to draw on a universal human value to create a program with energy, relevance and emotion that spanned brands and countries. Plus, it’s ongoing with life beyond one Olympic Games.

In my book, Spanning Silos, I noted that brand and country silos have advantages. They are close to market and product technologies, they promote accountability, and they encourage decisive decisions. But they simply don’t work in today’s environment. One reason is that brand messaging, especially as it is spread through global digital communities, is hard to confine to local markets. As a result, a brand that has different local positions can become confused. A second reason is that the necessary scale of advertising, promotions, and big idea brand building are virtually unavailable when local brand building dominates.

So how might firms deal with the silo issue? The organizational answer is to overlay coordination and communication between silos. The brand-building answer is to find driving ideas in the form of human values that are universal, that everyone can relate to. That answer could be found in education, health issues, water conservation or others, but it needs to apply to all silos and be capable of maintaining relevance over time.

P&G’s “Thank you Mom” campaign uses both answers to conduct a successful cross-silo global marketing campaign. Applied at the Vancouver games of 2010 and the Special Olympics of 2011, it made its major push during the 2012 Olympic Games in London. It’s all about celebrating what moms do and thanking them for their efforts, their care and their achievements.

The campaign came to life with the short film, “Best Job” which touches the heart and celebrates the role that moms play in raising Olympians and great kids. There were also videos of the moms of some of the 150 athletes sponsored by P&G brands. A mom was shown watching their child excel through an exceptional performance or by medaling an event. The campaign was promoted through a host of media channels. A companion in-store worldwide retailer program was enacted five months before the London games and involved four million retailers. It was tied to an effort to raise over 25 million dollars to support youth sports programs that would aid both the Olympics and moms everywhere. The promotions involved some 34 P&G brands including Tide/Ariel, Pantene, Pampers, and Gillette. There was a “Thank You Mom” app that allowed people to thank their own moms with personalized content in the form of a video.

“It provided the prestige and energy of being involved in the Olympics, plus the “feel-good” aspect of supporting youth sports.”

The marketing program was a winner for several reasons, besides the fact that it scaled over dozens of brand silos and many countries and was estimated to have generated $500 million in sales. It provided the prestige and energy of being involved in the Olympics, plus the “feel-good” aspect of supporting youth sports. Further, the connection with real moms provided a hearty dollop of authenticity and emotion. It’s easy to empathize with moms that have fed babies, provided lunches, supported at swim meets, bandaged skinned knees, attended recitals and shared in the joy of winning gold at the Olympics. Everyone has a mother, and everyone can relate to the best aspects of a mom’s role.


If your firm has the all-too-common problem of attempting to achieve synergy when there are multiple brands, most of which also span products and countries, you might look at the P&G “Thank You, Mom” program for inspiration.