CINCINATTI: As the Red Queen said in Lewis Carroll's immortal Alice in Wonderland: "Words mean exactly what I want them to mean, neither more nor less."
And when it comes to defining adspend as a percentage of sales, Procter & Gamble concurs.
For reasons apparently cosmetic, the planet's largest FMCG manufacturer has restated eleven years of ad-spending data. The move was revealed in the company's annual report filed August 28.
Conveniently, this performs a 'Soviet history' on the decline of P&G's adspend as a percentage of sales ratio - a metric that has in recent years irked some investors, particularly in the light of declining growth in organic sales.
The prestidigitation adds $349 million (€255.85m; £173.07m) to 2006 ad expenditure, with substantially less adjustment in earlier years.
Advertising Age summarizes P&G's juggling act as follows ...
- What's in:
In-store advertising via displays or third-party vendors, such as NewsCorp's SmartSource and Thomson's Wal-Mart TV (but not trade deals with retailers).
- What's out:
Salaries and benefits of P&G marketers
- What's always been there:
"As a result, we've been shifting more of our dollars away from traditional TV and toward other media, including instore. So we thought it was important to include in-store in our disclosed advertising spending."
But cynics, such as Sanford C Bernstein analyst Ali Dibadj, suspect that the differences between the old and new definitions could boost P&G's reported 2007 outlays by $350 million.
"Pish and tush," indignantly replied the Cincinatti colossus, insisting that it hasn't even calculated - let alone disclosed - the impact of the readjustments on its 2007 numbers.
Data sourced from AdAge.com; additional content by WARC staff