Innovation, creative ideas matter to P&G

20 January 2010

CINCINNATI: Procter & Gamble, the consumer goods giant, is looking to use innovation, strong creative ideas and its global scale to drive growth, according to Bob McDonald, its chief executive.

Speaking to Advertising Age, McDonald said that in the process of taking over from AG Lafley, he "discovered our purpose of touching and improving lives was incredibly powerful but underexploited."

"Our agency partners also felt our purpose was meaningful but underexploited," he added, with many potential employees similarly emphasising the value of such a promise.

One element of the organisation's focus on "purpose-inspired growth" will be "multi-brand commercial innovation", as demonstrated by its sponsorship of the US Olympic teams and the NFL.

A Vice Chair Team has also been established, which meets on a weekly basis, and includes McDonald, as well as Jan Moeller, Procter's chief financial officer, and all of P&G's vice chairmen.

This unit will "plan personnel moves, look at our programs focused on various competitors and countries, and work to make sure we're showing up as one company and our scale is having an impact," said McDonald.

P&G has previously outlined an ambition to attract an extra one billion customers in the next five years, with both developing and mature markets playing a key role in reaching this target.

In nations in the former category, the challenge often lies in encouraging shoppers to "use a product at all, whether it be disposable diapers [or] feminine care products," McDonald suggested.

The world's biggest advertiser also plans to use "discontinuous innovation" to expand its portfolio in areas like the US, where it already has a presence in more than 20 sectors.

"We need better loyalty to all of our brands in all of our categories, and we're working on those things as well," McDonald reported.

In order to achieve this goal, its marketing efforts will all begin from building an engaging creative concept, and then employ a wide range of different marketing channels as appropriate.

“You start with the idea now before you even think about a medium, and you take the idea, which is rooted in consumer insight, and only then do you figure out how to use the media, and you use every medium," McDonald stated.

Digital platforms, in particular, will allow P&G to promote its goods both to individuals, and to groups of shoppers in different countries that display common preferences, with a role that will continue to evolve going forward.

"For any company that prides itself on innovation, that wants to create not just new brands but new categories of products, we're going to have to communicate with people," McDonald argued.

"While people increasingly will do it digitally, there's no question that everybody won't be ready for digital communications until deep in the future."

"Anything that helps us generalise or group or simplify the marketing to people over time we will do that until we get to the ultimate, which is one on one."

Data sourced from AdAge; additional content by Warc staff