P&G's Pritchard: 'Best way to deal with disruption is to disrupt'

The marketing leader shares insights on how to handle this ever-changing, increasingly competitive industry.

It’s no secret that margins are thinning and budgets are getting tighter, yet marketers want – and consumers are demanding – relevant, engaging, high-quality content. So, how can agencies deliver more for less?

"They need to disrupt themselves. It’s pretty simple," said Procter & Gamble Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard. "We had to disrupt ourselves and transform ourselves and do it in a constructive way."

He added: "The best way to deal with disruption is to disrupt yourself."

The focus should be on "different ways of working," which Pritchard said P&G is doing with its own agency partners. The CPG giant has created a new model that brings together multiple agency partners from different holding companies – including WPP, Publicis and Omnicom - into one integrated group, called "Woven."

P&G team members are also co-locating with Grey Midwest on Febreze and other brands, and with "Publicis Agile Lion" on Crest and Oral B. 

Pritchard, who also spoke at the ANA Masters of Marketing Conference Friday morning, talked to Campaign US about the DTC world, which he said is getting P&G to concentrate on lean innovation. The company, which is working with 180 startups, studied how these fledgling businesses work and how they identify consumer problems and adapt constantly.

"That requires performance marketing skills," he said, which P&G handles internally and has trained 1,000s of employees on. P&G even holds performance-marketing challenges, where brand or executive teams are tasked with selling as much as they can in a set timeframe.

P&G is also treating certain products, like its heated razor, as a DTC, online-only brand.

On the media side, Pritchard said the company is always going to go where the consumer are, whether its OTT, network TV or "merging the ad world with other creative words of film, music, comedy, sports and others."

One example Pritchard pointed to is renowned journalist Katie Couric producing a program for skincare brand SK-II, which explores the tension between Chinese, Korean, Japanese and American moms and their daughters regarding timelines for life milestones, like marriage and children. P&G also launched a six-episode series about extreme poverty called "Activate" in 172 countries in partnership with National Geographic and Global Citizen.

P&G has been at the forefront of important social issues for years, including racial bias and gender equality.

Pritchard said he’s very excited – and bullish internally and externally - about five movements that P&G is part of: #SeeHer to promote accurate portrayal of women and girls in advertising and media; #SeeAll movement to promote the accurate portrayal of race, ethnicity and all cultures; Free the Work to get women and underrepresented voices in the director chair; BrandsforGood to use our brands to promote sustainable behavior; and the Global Alliance for Responsible Media to eliminate toxic content online. 

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