'Mindset Shift' Needed, P&G Chief Tells 4A Conference

05 March 2007

LAS VEGAS: Sin City, Nevada is not the most obvious of places from which to exhort marketers to forge "honest, authentic" relationships with consumers based on trust. But Procter & Gamble global cmo Jim Stengel did just that, apparently oblivious to the irony of making such a call from the world capital for exploiting human frailty.

Addressing the AAAA's annual Media Conference, Stengel reminded delegates that three years prior he had kicked adland's ass for its ability to react to technological change. Such a reprimand is now "obsolete", he said.

"We can no longer measure success in keeping up, because keeping up is not possible, opined the P&G guru. "What we need is a mindset shift.

"Honest, authentic" relationships based on trust are what consumers now crave. "We have to understand what's important to them, and how we can genuinely connect with them," Stengel said. "We must shift our mindset to truly creating partnerships."

Consumers are showing a greater need for making connections with other people and brands, he continued, referring to the upsurge in consumer-generated media, such as YouTube, viral marketing and other cabbalistic techniques. "Sometimes we need to be more open in bringing that human perspective to our marketing."

Trust, too, has become a vital element in marketing. Stengel pointed to a fifteen-nation audit of 15 P&G product categories which revealed that brands with the highest market share also enjoyed the highest level of trust among consumers ... a nugatory nugget of research that would have struck such legendary advertising practitioners as David Ogilvy and Mary Wells as akin to mastering the flute before becoming a snake-charmer.

Stengel rounded-off by confiding to his audience: "We have come to realize that at P&G, we are building brands that are about standing for something. It's not only a smart business decision, it's the right thing for us as marketers to do."

As Ogilvy and Wells probably told a thouand clients.

Data sourced from AdWeek (USA); additional content by WARC staff