CINCINNATI: After twenty-five years within the Kevlar-lined corporate bosom of Procter & Gamble, former global marketing officer James R Stengel (pictured) today, Monday, confronts the outside world.
He is backed by little more than a gold-plated contacts book and the expertise acquired in the service of the planet's largest advertiser.
His self-funded venture, Jim Stengel LLC, will evangelize a quasi-new way of selling called 'purpose-based marketing'. This, says Stengel, is about defining what a company does in addition to enhancing its bottom line: how it can improve its customers' lives.
"Marketing is in need of a major overhaul [and] trust in brands is at an all-time low," Stengel argues, insisting that the concept of 'purpose' isn't just the latest reheated marketingspeak.
He cites an example of P&G's use of purpose marketing for its Pampers brand, which several years ago decided it had a higher purpose than keeping babies' bottoms dry: helping mothers to develop healthy, happy babies.
And to reinforce that message, the company offered parenting advice, signing-up experts to advise on a range of associated topics.
But in late '08 times are tough – and likely to get tougher . Not the ideal moment to go solo with such a 'touch-feely' concept, say some marketers.
And as if to underscore that view, P&G itself changed course last week to refocus its marketing message as 'value for money' "It works with consumers," chairman/ceo Alan G Lafley told analysts during the company's fiscal first-quarter earnings call.
Moreover, the one FMCG area where many advertisers would stand in line to bid for Stengel's talents is strictly off-limits.
A three year non-compete agreement prevents him from working for any P&G competitor across a wide range of product sectors.
Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff