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Viewers to choose Super Bowl storyline for TV ad showing multiple P&G brands

Old Spice Guy Isaiah Mustafa features in Procter & Gamble's multi-brand Super Bowl ad 2020
Procter & Gamble

Procter & Gamble, which owns billion-dollar products from Gillette to Tide, is set to attempt a groundbreaking ad at the Super Bowl on Sunday, co-created by consumers.

The 60-second spot, to be aired during the fourth-quarter, will be created by people who choose from 64 different permutations according to P&G's Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard.

"What you'll see at the Super Bowl is the world's first interactive ad, so we're working with a company called Eko which is a technology that allows you to literally interact and choose which path the ad is going to take ... It's a 60-second ad and when you go online it has 64 different choices and combinations that you can make," Pritchard told CNBC's Arjun Kharpal at the World Economic Forum in Davos last week.

Characters and the P&G brands they represent will include Old Spice's Isaiah Mustafa and Charmin's Ultra Strong Bear, according to an Ad Week report. Actress and producer Sophia Vergara, who has starred in ads for Head & Shoulders, will feature on an interactive website where consumers can help her and her guests decide how to clean up after her Super Bowl party, creating an ad that will air at the Big Game on Sunday. The most popular permutation of the commercial will be aired.

P&G will be hoping its multi-brand ad will have an impact on one of the biggest advertising events of the year, where broadcaster Fox is reported to be charging up to $5.6 million for a 30-second spot.

Putting several brands together could be risky, according to Tamryn Kerr, creative director at ad agency VMLY&R. "Few brands can pull something like this off and P&G is capitalizing on brand equity that took many years and millions of dollars to build. It's risky move and as we all know, the stakes are incredibly high, but they know that," she said in an email to CNBC.

But will people be interested in co-creating an ad? "For most brands the answer would undoubtedly be no, but given the right storyline, the chance to mess with TV's most prominent mascots could be could be too good to miss," Kerr added.

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Will Grobel, a director at Deloitte Digital, told CNBC that having consumers help develop ads is a trend. "Brands that listen carefully to their audiences when creating advertising, invite feedback on the concepts created and demonstrate that these opinions matter, can build a greater degree of trust, relevance and transparency in their brand communications," he said in an email to CNBC.

P&G has been experimenting with new ways of marketing in recent years, getting disparate ad agencies to work together in its office on Tide and moving away from traditional ads and towards funding National Geographic TV shows. In March, it launched a YouTube series for skincare line SK-II that saw comedian James Corden raid actress Chloe Grace Moretz's bathroom.

In a world where data and technology are becoming increasingly important in marketing, creativity still has an edge, Pritchard added.

"(The Super Bowl ad) is an expansion of creativity using technology, but at the end of the day it's the idea that is really going to engage people and creativity I think is up for one of the greatest explosions we'll ever have in the next decade."

P&G will also run a separate ad during the Super Bowl for Olay with an all-women cast and laundry detergent Tide is set to return after sitting out in 2019, with a spot featuring actors Charlie Day and Emily Hampshire. Tide's 2018 spot, "It's a Tide ad," featured references to other P&G products, though they were not explicit, as the NFL previously prohibited ads that featured multiple brands, according to an Ad Age report.

Brands that have already released their Super Bowl commercials include Budweiser, Hyundai, Michelob Ultra, the NFL and Porsche.