A Lesson in Social Concept Testing: P& G STEAMBOOST Gets Mopped by Women Bloggers
We women are steamed! Not by the new easy-to-use Swiffer Bissell® STEAMBOOST™ mop, but by Proctor & Gamble’s mindless use of Rosie the Riveter— the iconic World War II image that has come to symbolize women as self-sufficient “breadwinners”— in the launch last week of their new STEAMBOOST ad campaign.
For a company that spends gazillions of dollars on market research, P&G’s Rosie the Riveter concept test for the steam mop campaign seems to have been “Swiffered” under the floor, literally. Angry and immediate reprisal from women bloggers might have been averted had P&G and its ad team also run a social media concept test prior to campaign launch.
To demonstrate how an easy social media concept test might have helped P&G avoid now-costly embarrassment (or even suggest innovation), I set one up for Rosie the Riveter after the fact using the NetBase social intelligence platform. As shown below, my NetBase query filter pulled a subset of 15% of all P&G mentions over the past year.
Our concept test for the beloved Rosie icon generated several charts and word clouds that provide instant consumer insight into what the image represents, and allow the researcher to customize the social media lens they wish to examine. For instance, the acronym BAMF (Bad Ass Mother F@#%*!) come up a lot; and the corresponding data set confirms today’s consumers have considerable affection for the “empowered” symbolized by Rosie past and present. In fact, her historical reference is sacrosanct in women’s history.
In setting up a 12-month overall P&G marketing query, we also can isolate consumer social emotions and evaluate behaviors to get a good idea of which campaigns are favored, or not, by consumers. Even more importantly, why.
The irony that has befallen P&G: J. Howard Miller’s original ‘We can do it’ poster girl Rosie shaming P&G into pulling the ad.
In another odd twist, P&G Bissell Swiffer’s Rosie—who appears as a stiff bodied, tight-fisted woman with a smirk and raised eyebrow— conveys a hint of hostility, even defiance (Read: This is a weird character role they have ME playing!) In contrast, the angular visage, chiseled bicep flaunting of the renowned Rosie the Riveter image exudes muscular confidence, a sense of empowerment and inner strength.
I dare say this one was bound to backfire on P&G.
Perhaps simply an oversight by P&G’s ad agency team, but its creative staffers clearly weren’t aware of the symbolic dissonance they had created—notwithstanding the offense to women—by coopting Rosie. A notable historical reference was also lost on P&G, one we found in our NetBase social intelligence gathering:
@FrankConniff Selective history. More "Rosie the Riveters" died on American assembly lines in WWII than men at Pearl Harbor.
P&G and its ad team certainly missed Pew Research Center’s new Breadwinner Moms study, published just days before their launch of the Rosie the Riveter Steamboost campaign. New statistics: 4 out of 10 moms are the primary or sole source of family income; and since 1960, there is nearly a 40% increase in the number of moms who out earn their male partners, as well as a tripling of single mom households.
As our emotions word cloud reveals, P&G stirred a hornet’s nest which is not easily Swiffered away. The campaign apparently has opened up further investigation by women bloggers into advertising’s cleaning product category.
Global social media analyst, research strategist and localization expert. Delivers global social media brand audits, analytics, brand innovation, media tracking. NetBase partner, leverages award-winning NLP platform Insight Composer to deliver global brand insights and analytics in 40 languages. Yogini, linguaphile, passionate about global cultural research, social brand innovation, ...
Other Posts by Candida McCollam
Social Media Today