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P&G Puts Added Focus On Digital Media As TV Soap Ends


 Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) will make a bigger push to develop more digital media properties and Web sites targeted at women following the cancellation of its soap opera Guiding Light, which the company used for decades to peddle soap and household necessities.

Guiding Light, the longest running show in broadcast history is due to be canceled on CBS. Procter & Gamble Productions, the company's unit that owns the soap opera, is weighing options to make the show available elsewhere or in another medium, spokeswoman Jeannie Tharrington said.

But a big focus for the unit - which looks to connect the company with its consumers - will now be to develop digital media and Web sites that interact with moms.

"We are just trying to keep up with the times," Tharrington said. She declined to say how many sites or media properties are planned, saying only "there is a pipeline." The sites won't all be targeted at women, but may touch on subjects ranging from health and wellness to the kitchen, while advertising P&G products. P&G will develop some of these Web sites in partnership with NBC Universal, she said. P&G Productions already has a partnership with NBC Universal for a Web site called, which discusses subjects like health and wellness for pets, while carrying ads for products like P&G's pet food brand Iams.

The P&G unit still has another day-time drama called As The World Turns, as well as the People's Choice Awards show.

P&G products are advertised on Guiding Light, and the soap opera genre got its name from the consumer product companies that helped develop these shows and hawked their brands on them. For years, consumer product makers resisted moving their advertising online, but that has been slowly changing as they find more of their consumers can be reached online.

Consumer companies believed soap operas were an excellent way to reach their target audience - women who did much of the shopping for the household. But as more women moved into the workforce, they began to miss these day-time shows. Many makers of household products and food are now using Web sites that can offer anything from health and wellness advice to recipes as one indirect way of advertising their brands to women.

P&G, the world's largest advertiser and seller of household staples like Tide detergent and Pampers diapers, has recently been attempting to make a greater push into this space. More recently it has had some of its employees swap ideas with those at Google Inc. (GOOG). According to TNS Media Intelligence, Procter & Gamble's overall advertising expenditures fell to $3.2 billion in 2008 from $3.45 billion in 2007.

Ratings for Guiding Light had been falling and Tharrington said the company was still weighing the financial viability of keeping the soap opera alive elsewhere. She did not discount some kind of a digital format for the show, but said the company was considering several options for the program, which will have its finale on CBS Sept. 18.

Guiding Light, which was created in 1937, was originally on radio before its moved to television and follows the lives of four families in a fictional town in the Midwest called Springfield.




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