Procter & Gamble, the consumer packaged goods manufacturer, is drawing on lean innovation and agile principles as it seeks to develop its advertising capabilities.

Marc Pritchard, Procter & Gamble’s chief brand officer, discussed this subject at the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) 2019 Masters of Marketing Conference.

And, he explained, the parent company of Tide laundry detergent, Gillette shaving products and the Always feminine hygiene line has looked to the pioneers of West Coast technology for marketing inspiration.

“We opened things up and our leadership team went to Silicon Valley,” Pritchard told WARC in an interview. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: P&G transforms advertising with in-housing, agency co-location and Silicon Valley tactics.)

Elaborating on this theme, he outlined how Procter & Gamble is drawing inspiration from the way that agile businesses are able to move at speed.

“We examined how startups operate. And we brought a capability called ‘lean innovation’ to our company – and have just expanded it everywhere,” said Pritchard.

“It's not just lean innovation for technical innovation; it’s throughout every aspect of innovation. Basically, we’re taking [and applying] this concept of operating like a startup in small teams – constantly experimenting.”

When a brand decides to “constantly experiment”, Pritchard conceded, there is an inevitable outcome: “You constantly fail,” he said. “But you fail, pivot, learn, move and change. And that has given people the ability to try things.”

Such a change has demanded full marketing-management support to take the lessons from the world of Silicon Valley and reskill brand managers to operate like entrepreneurs.

“We’ve trained thousands [of employees] on lean innovation and DTC [direct-to-consumer] performance marketing,” Pritchard said. “We’ve created strategic partnerships with 40 companies. And we field competitive ‘challenges’ to accelerate learning with small teams competing for 12 weeks to achieve the most direct-to-consumer sales using performance marketing.”

And to date, he reported, “More than 1,000 people have competed. And it's inspiring more of a startup culture in our company.”