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Disrupting Advertising


Marc Pritchard no longer leads the world's biggest advertiser, but wants it to be the most effective as he outlines new way of handling media and creative

By Jack Neff. Published on October 04, 2019.

Credit: Tide, P&G

Procter & Gamble Co. is no longer earth’s largest advertiser by cash outlay, but Global Brand Officer Marc Pritchard laid claim to a different title in his speech to the Association of National Advertisers Masters of Marketing conference on Friday.

“We’re disrupting the definition of the ‘world’s largest advertiser,’” Pritchard said. “It’s not who spends the most. It’s who reaches the most people efficiently and effectively to drive growth.”

And while that may seem like a bold boast for a big established brand marketer, often burdened with such labels as slow-moving, legacy and traditional, Pritchard can speak from a position of strength for arguably the first time in his decade-long run as P&G’s chief marketer.

The company blasted through Wall Street expectations with 7 percent organic sales growth in its most recently reported (its fiscal fourth, the calendar second) quarter, the latest in a series of upside surprises that has its stock up 49 percent over the past year. After more than a decade of ANA conferences titled “Driving Growth,” one of the group’s foremost members—the one where its chairman is chief marketer—actually is in a meaningful way.

Pritchard stood up to say he was “sharing P&G’s road map. I offer it to you for you to consider on your brands.” And he had some eager listeners, easily winning on headcount over MediaLink Chief Transformation Officer Dana Anderson, a formidable presenter in her own right, who was speaking simultaneously on the ANA’s second stage. (But, on the FOMO front, Anderson’s stage produced a raucous ovation that could easily be heard during Pritchard’s Q&A with ANA CEO Bob Liodice.)

Pritchard covered many of the changes he’s outlined elsewhere at industry events, providing some meaningful updates along the way.

He led off showing Tide’s recent “Not for Laundry” campaign, which played out during NBC’s Sunday Night Football over the past four weeks. It comes from Woven, the North American Fabric Care agency that mashes up creatives from Publicis Groupe, WPP and P&G’s own media planners at the Publicis headquarters in New York. And Pritchard noted that the Woven model now has extended to P&G’s Asia-Pacific region.

Those in-house media planners have been helping Tide spend more effectively, as Pritchard sees it. “By analyzing set-top box data, U.S. Tide found they were reaching the same household 22 times a month, so they cut off the excess and placed ads with greater precision in programs to avoid the annoying experience of seeing the same ad over and over again.”

Overall, P&G now has nearly 30 percent of its media planning handled in-house, Pritchard said. He also pointed to Secret’s recent ads, which came from an in-house team that took over for Wieden & Kennedy earlier this year. The in-house work came for one-tenth the cost and in one month vs. five months compared to prior agency work, Pritchard said, “And it’s winning in the market.”

But P&G isn’t quitting agencies just yet. In fact, it’s drawing them closer. Pritchard pointed to Grey Midwest working with Febreze and other brands in Cincinnati, “creating a borderless approach and collapsing creativity from months to hours.” He also noted Publicis Agile Lion, also co-located with P&G to work on Crest and Oral B, and the growing number of new shops the company is working with on projects.

Such “agency reinvention” efforts have saved $1 billion, he said, and “led to more creativity and agility, greater entrepreneurship [including letting brand managers have more say in their agency relationships] and transforming our organization and culture.”

Pritchard also pointed to efforts P&G has made to train thousands of its marketers on “lean innovation,” which uses direct-to-consumer style performance marketing, with several small teams competing in 12-week contests to see which can use Instagram and Facebook advertising or other tactics to build direct sales. He also noted that P&G has 180 of its own largely d-to-c startups.

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