P&G docu-series debuts on National Geographic Canada Friday night

Procter and Gamble‘s ongoing efforts to tackle—and be seen tackling—some of the world’s biggest problems takes another step forward in Canada Friday, when the six-part docu-series Activate debuts on National Geographic channel.

Activate, which debuted in the U.S. on Thursday, is funded by P&G but produced by RadicalMedia and the not-for-profit Global Citizen, which fights extreme poverty around the world.

P&G brands are featured in each one-hour episode, highlighting the various ways they are connected to that episode’s theme. The six themes are: root causes of poverty, including sustainable sourcing; criminalization of poverty; disaster relief; girls’ education; plastic waste; and the global water crisis.

The episode on eradicating extreme poverty features supply chain-sourcing efforts for P&G’s Charmin brand, while the episode on girls’ education examines the ways feminine care brand Always provides free educational resources. The episode on plastic waste will show how Head & Shoulders is working to solve the problem.

Aside from the brand integrations, the series features multiple celebrities, including Hugh Jackman, Common, Usher, Rachel Brosnahan, Pharrell Williams, and Priyanka Chopra Jonas.

Activate is a natural stop on a road that P&G has been on for a few years now. Its top marketer, Marc Pritchard, has been one of the loudest industry critics, calling for radical improvements to his company’s marketing, but also for the industry as a whole.

Aside from failings in the digital supply chain, Pritchard has said the massive shift to digital and social marketing has led to an excess of poorly produced, ineffective advertising that becomes completely ignorable—or a “crap trap” as he famously called it back in 2016.

Pritchard’s plan was to cut spending across the board, but to also insist on better creative (and a cleaner digital advertising supply chain). Along with that, P&G has taken a stand on multiple serious issues. When P&G released its “We believe” ad for Gillette early this year, Pritchard said “Gillette is now redefining masculinity… This is not a product ad, this is a point of view ad.”

However, Pritchard also told Fast Company that the scale and size of Activate “is unprecedented.”

“This is part of our effort to reinvent advertising from mass clutter with too many annoying messages, to useful and interesting brand content consumers actually look forward to,” Pritchard told CNBC.

Asked how supporting the docuseries will help P&G’s brands, Pritchard said 90% of consumers report having a more positive image of a brand when it supports a cause. “[A]nd half say they make purchase decisions based on shared beliefs with a brand.”

David Brown