too lean: Olean's Web site needs filling out
May 11, 1998
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
Having just finished my first bag of Wow Potato Chips-a crisp,
Mesquite flavored snack from Frito Lay-I decided to visit the
Procter & Gamble Web site to learn more about Olean, its trademarked
version of Olestra, the new fat substitute that's used in the
Like the first
television advertising for automobiles in the 1950s, P&G's
site failed to take full advantage of the true power of the Internet
to connect one on one with customers. The product is exciting-I
can eat something I enjoy and it doesn't affect my cholesterol-but
the site conveyed none of its inherent drama.
creators seemed more intent on playing defense against various
special interest groups who may be critical of Olean.
conservative strategy is typical of packaged goods marketers but
unfamiliar to technology marketers, who tend to operate in a more
free-wheeling business setting.
packaged goods marketers could benefit from browsing more high-tech
Web sites. While Web sites may not be the most important part
of the marketing mix in packaged goods, if you're going to do
one, you might as well do it well-as P&G has proven it can
do with its Tide ClothesLine site.
understand the issues, let's review my tour of the Olean Web site.
lengthy browsing-it was hard to find, even using a variety of
search engines-a fairly two-dimensional site claimed, "The
Foremost Authority for Information About Olestra." Paging
down, it offered "Benefits of Olean," "Digestive
Effects" and "Vitamins & Nutrients," but some
of the material was dated.
I did learn
that Olean was from the makers of Crisco, a grease I recall fondly
from making apple pies at my mother's apron strings. While Crisco
is a recognized brand name, the association seemed odd, considering
Olean's use as a fat substitute. And, the text box reference to
Crisco was the last reference to the established brand I found.
I did learn
that, "Olean provides an opportunity for individuals to reduce
their fat intake while still enjoying the taste and texture of
their favorite snack." That's a clear benefit statement and
a compelling one.
And, if P&G
had found a way for me to interact with the Web site at this point,
-an e-mail address for communications, for example-this would
have been a marvelous visit.
On the matter
of the widely reported digestive tract problems, there was a button
"Digestive Effects" that noted, "When people eat
Olean snacks, they are no more likely to have diarrhea than if
they did not eat the snacks." I also learned that Olean may
act as a stool softener, which might be of interest to hemorrhoid
sufferers. Perhaps P&G missed the opportunity for a link to
the Preparation H Web page.
suited for specialized audiences was easy to find, including a
Journal of the American Medical Association article abstract on
"Gastrointestinal Symptoms Following Consumption of Olestra
or Regular Triglyceride Potato Chips." Like most consumers,
I passed on reading the abstract, which was nicely linked to that
association's Web site. But for academics, health care professionals,
registered dieticians and the news media, there were well-articulated
materials delivering the P&G Olean story and testing support.
however, nothing met my needs as a consumer.
a key-word search feature, and I looked for some information of
particular interest to me. As a heart patient, I take Pravachol,
a popular cholesterol-reducing drug.
I was curious
if I could take Pravachol and still eat Olean based products.
I entered the brand namen of the drug into the search engine:
"No matches have been found to your search terms."
I could have communicated with the company, I would have suggested
that the site could easily include a reference to Pravachol, even
if it were a disclaimer.
From a strategic
marketing perspective I couldn't imagine a 30-second television
commercial this strategically unfocused or bland coming from one
of P&G's advertising agencies.
From a consumer
perspective, it missed any opportunity to use the power of the
Web to tell the story of Olean, build my level of interest in
products made with the ingredient, establish a relationship with
me as a loyal customer of P&G products, sell me anything or
point me to a sales location. Couldn't there be a link to Frito
Lay's Web site?
folks in Cincinnati start sharpening their swords, I'd say their
Olean Web site was typical of packaged goods Web sites.
Just for fun
I turned from the Olean Web site to the Dell Computer Web site.
A button in the lower left of the first screen invited me to share
my thoughts to, "Help Us Make Dell.com Better."
Dell should stop by and visit with John Pepper and Durk Jager
next time he's in Cincinnati. Better yet, he could send them an
is a partner with Diamond Technology Partners in Chicago.
He can be reached at email@example.com.