LONDON: Brands can’t just rely on their agencies – they need to take back control, get their hands on the keyboard, and ensure they are able to manage the brand and not just the project, according to Procter & Gamble’s Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard.

Speaking in London on Tuesday, he followed on from his tough message to agencies at the ANA Media Conference in Florida, in which he re-stated his ambition to work “with agencies not through them”.

A large part of the effort is to reframe advertising by “less doing more”. The key example, Pritchard said, was the beauty brand Olay, which, across the US, China, and the UK, had been running up to six ads at a time in each market.

Instead, he explained, the brand “decided to turn down the noise, and focus on one national, high-quality ad and stick with it over time, so consumers could see it, understand it”. The result, he said, was that all ad-quality metrics went up.

“With fewer ads, they then ramped up more one-to-one engagement with Olay skin adviser,” Pritchard added, commenting on the “AI-powered” selfie app, designed to let you know your skin age compared to your actual age.” From this platform, the user then receives product advice.

It was not, Pritchard noted, an ad: “it’s a useful and engaging experience.”

This shift feeds into the overall strategy of “doing less advertising and more influencing.” And it’s working, he added: Olay is now growing more sales worldwide.

Pritchard also expanded on how P&G is right-sizing agency relationships dynamically, using what he termed a fixed-and-flow model.

“We invest in a fixed amount of work that requires experienced creative brilliance, like big campaigns, and we supplement that with a flow-to-the-work approach through open-sourcing within and outside its current agency.”

This approach was first pioneered in Asia by SK-II, P&G’s premium skincare brand, which maintained the relationship with Publicis for the Change Destiny campaign, “and then [worked with] several other agencies to produce viral videos,” including Marriage Takeover and Expiry Date.

Elsewhere, P&G’s marketing chief added to his comments on digital giants, advocating “accelerating mass disruption” by enhancing the relationship between brands and digital partners.

He cited the example of the response to the Tide Pod challenge where teenagers filmed themselves eating the detergent pods; YouTube worked with P&G to take down videos and in their place distribute the brand’s warning.

Sourced from WARC