P&G experiments on digital

15 March 2012

CINCINNATI: Procter & Gamble, the consumer goods giant, is taking a "brand agnostic" approach to digital marketing, providing major room for experimentation when using this channel.

The owner of Tide and Pampers plans to cut $1bn from its marketing expenditure by 2016, firstly by reducing the headcount in relevant departments, and also by leveraging the cost advantages of new media.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Marc Pritchard, P&G's global marketing and brand building officer, identified a range of other schemes it is pursuing to enhance its capabilities.

"We've tried to accelerate time and cut time with virtual design of packaging, virtual design of products, virtual design of processes, virtual design of ads, those kinds of things," he said.

"It has to come down to not what the entire company does in total but what each brand and category does on a one-to-one basis."

Pritchard suggested that the learning curve on digital began with search, and moved on to banner ads and then social media, with Pampers, Old Spice, Secret and SK-II among the brands leading the way.

"We're really brand agnostic. It's who's interested, who wants to push it. We love to see people try different things and watch it explode," he said. "Some brands that have very little money get very innovative."

Aussie, a haircare range, spends its entire budget on new media, while Old Spice's "Smell Like a Man, Man" also proved a major viral hit. Over 30 brands will also use social media during the 2012 Olympics.

To successfully leverage digital channels around the world, P&G has established partnerships with Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and a range of other major online companies.

Pritchard said: "The deal with these partnerships is that we grow together. They exchange ideas, new approaches and technology with us. We exchange our ideas and insights. It's mutually beneficial."

Alongside such moves, Procter & Gamble also regularly meets with innovative start-ups to keep in touch the latest trends. Shazam, a platform identifying music tracks, and Klout, which measures individuals' online influence, are two such examples.

Another objective for the company is establishing common electronic gross rating points to compare impressions on different sites, which could ultimately "revolutionise the industry", Pritchard said.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff