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basics. BERNDT: P&G PUTTING BRAND BASICS FIRST;ANA TO HEAR EXEC'S CALL TO EMPHASIZE PRODUCT VALUE

By Published on .

Procter & Gamble Co. is going back to basics in brand marketing, P&G North America President Wolfgang Berndt will tell the Association of National Advertisers' annual conference in Amelia Island, Fla., today.

Mr. Berndt is among a select group of speakers-others are from BBDO Worldwide, Eastman Kodak Co., Wendy's International and Wal-Mart Stores-addressing the conference's estimated 500-plus attendees.

HIGHER TRIAL LEVELS

Mr. Berndt, also exec VP of P&G, is expected to call on marketers to join the nation's largest marketer in refocusing on product, ad message, ad weight and trial usage.

"Even in markets like the U.S., we used to .*.*. generate much higher trial levels behind new things we brought to market," Mr. Berndt told Advertising Age, blaming the 1980s tendency of impatience and a dependency on quick fixes for shifting the focus away from product value.

LITTLE IDEAS

"We probably compounded the problem by organizing ourselves in a way that gave us a capacity to assume a lot of little ideas and made it important for people to get those little ideas to market," he said. "If you have a lot of different brand managers, they get into a lot of little things instead of focusing on getting what is the big idea with the consumer."

As a result, P&G is "moving back toward fewer people on our brands and, in most cases, back to one brand manager," Mr. Berndt will tell the ANA. "Organizational complexity breeds complexity in the business, breeding a focus on a tactical daily, rather than strategic, running of the business."

REFOCUSING

P&G is "refocusing the role of the brand manager as the primary expert on the consumer, one of the sources of unique consumer insights working with product development counterparts, market research and marketing," Mr. Berndt said.

While P&G has been making some progress toward this goal, more work needs to be done, Mr. Berndt said, adding that one of the areas still needing improvement is advertising.

Its priority, along with additional training for brand managers will be "communicated very clearly," he noted.

BRAND BUILDING EXPERIENCE

In his speech, Mr. Berndt will discuss what he learned about brand building during his tenure as group VP for Canada, Latin America and Eastern Europe from 1991-92.

"It's important to set yourself apart, but in many instances where there are functional differences between products it's not right to have imagery the sole focus of copy," Mr. Berndt will say, pointing out that product focus is "getting lost in the emotional aspects of advertising."

"Sometimes you lose sight of the product in the middle of human drama."

BBDO Worldwide Vice-Chairman Philip Dusenberry also will speak to ANA attendees on the subject of brand positioning and how communicating it should be addressed globally.

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