NEW YORK -- If a gold medal could be awarded for Olympic marketing, Procter & Gamble would surely be striving for it.
With the opening ceremony of the Olympics two weeks away, the world's largest consumer products maker this week unveiled an ad that shows child athletes arriving in London and getting ready to compete.
In the "Kids" commercial, a proud mom watches her son on the diving board and these words are posted on the screen: "To their moms, they'll always be kids." Then, an announcer says the company's tagline: "P&G, proud sponsor of moms."
P&G is just one of the major companies that pay millions of dollars for sponsorships, ads, and other marketing surrounding the Olympics.
The 2008 Olympics in Beijing was the most-watched event in U.S. television history: An average of 27.7 million people saw the telecast over 17 nights. Companies spent $977 million in advertising during the 2008 Olympics to reach that audience, according to Kantar Media.
P&G, which was not a sponsor in Beijing, is trying to capture those eyeballs this time around. The "Kids" ad is just a small part of the company's Olympics marketing efforts, which began in the spring.
P&G in Cincinnati, which declined to disclose its spending on marketing, has a corporate campaign in addition to initiatives for 34 brands, ranging from Pampers to Duracell. Additionally, the company is sponsoring more than 150 athletes worldwide.
"It's the largest multi-brand program we've ever done," says Marc Pritchard, global marketing and brand building officer at P&G.
P&G expects the campaign to drive $500 million in sales. That's much larger than the $100 million in sales the company garnered from its campaign at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
In the United States, P&G's corporate campaign kicked off in April with its first "Thank You, Mom" TV spot.
Many of the company's separate brands also have campaigns. For example, Pampers rolled out an ad in April showing babies climbing a chair as if it were an Olympic sport.