P&G Ad Effort Focuses on Black Women

Dan Sewell, AP, November 12, 2007

{snip} [Najoh] Tita-Reid is helping lead a Procter & Gamble Co. campaign called “My Black is Beautiful,” which combines marketing with forums meant to foster dialogue about black women and the way they are portrayed in popular culture.

The marketers involved say it’s a movement, not just advertising. But it aims at a group with growing buying power, estimated at more than $400 billion and is tied to brands including Olay skin care, Pantene shampoo, CoverGirl cosmetics, and Always and Tampax feminine care products.

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The campaign has similarities to rival Unilever’s “Real Beauty” initiative for Dove, which focused on women’s self-image. It also fits with a marketing push by P&G, which spends $7 billion a year on global advertising, to build brand image and good will—and sales.

“It’s getting beyond the selling of the product,” said Mike Robinson, who heads Cincinnati-based LaVerdad Marketing & Media, focused on ethnic marketing. “You’re going to get more share of the heart, more share of the mind, and ultimately, more share of the wallet.”

Experts say mass marketers generally have been slow to target a black female population that is increasing in income, education and professional advancement. They say gains by black females are a major reason black spending clout is growing at a faster rate than the overall U.S. population’s—the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia estimates that black buying power of $799 billion in 2006 will be $1.1 trillion in 2011.

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“My Black” began with P&G research that showed black women were frequent users of beauty products, spending at three times the rate of the general female population. A P&G/Essence poll found black women overwhelmingly say they are portrayed worse than other groups in the media and pop culture.

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The campaign was already in the works last spring when talk radio host Don Imus’ racially offensive comments about the Rutgers women’s basketball team caused a furor. P&G was among major companies to yank advertising.

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Tita-Reid, associate marketing director of the multicultural team, sees “My Black” helping pave the way for her infant daughter.

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In her Cincinnati home, the living room is filled with children’s toys; the black dolls are mingled with white dolls.

P&G

Najoh Tita-Reid and daughter Naima with diverse dolls.

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