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Reckitt Adds Corporate Tags to TV Ads, but With a Twist

Effort Behind 'Brand RB' Targets Potential Employees, Not Consumers

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BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- Reckitt Benckiser is adding a corporate tag to all its brand TV ads starting July 26, but with a twist: The effort doesn't aim at consumers despite being attached to consumer media advertising.

Instead, the target is students the company is looking to recruit into its marketing and management ranks.

The "Discover RB" tags at the end of ads from Havas' Euro RSCG, New York, direct people to the corporate DiscoverRB.com corporate site, built primarily to educate undergraduate and M.B.A. students about the company through features that include a recently launched Facebook trivia game about the company.

The tags also support the effort to transition people from calling the company Reckitt Benckiser, often colloquially shortened to Reckitt, to the new acronym RB.

While competitors such as Procter & Gamble, Unilever and SCJohnson have made similar efforts to draw their brands together under a corporate umbrella on TV and elsewhere in recent years, those efforts are usually directed primarily at consumers.

But RB is instead targeting students largely because some of its bigger competitors are already better known by them, and because the company increasingly wants new hires out of school rather than the more-experienced managers from other package-goods players it had tended to hire in the past, said Rob de Groot, exec VP-North America and Australia/New Zealand.

"When I joined this company 21 years ago, we were mainly hiring proven professionals," Mr. de Groot said, "We were failing to get the right mix into the organization. A couple of years back we changed that. ... We're now competing with other companies for [students] and we want to stress our unique culture."

Caroline Hey, RB communications manager, said RB found it hard to re-train people brought up in another culture, so the company has shifted to "getting folks early and invested in the culture right from the beginning."

The unique aspects of the culture, Mr. de Groot said, include rapid assignment changes and promotions and a preference for international transfers. As an example of that, he said, seven of the top nine U.S. managers are, like himself, from outside the country,* while an American heads the German business.

"We think we have more opportunities for employees than other companies," he said. "We move them faster. We move them in here and once they can swim in the first pool we take them out and put them in the next pool."

He added: "I think we're also proud enough of our advertising now to put Reckitt Benckiser on there."

RB recently agreed to purchase SSL, maker of Durex condoms and Dr. Scholl's orthotic inserts in a deal awaiting regulatory and shareholder approval. That presents a couple more opportunities for corporate branding.

Mr. de Groot said he can't comment on whether Durex will get the corporate tag in ads until after the deal closes.

"SSL is much smaller in the U.S. than in Europe and developing countries," he said. "But obviously that gives us a nice opportunity to get much more critical mass, and I think Durex is a beautiful brand with a lot of potential."

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CORRECTION: A previous version of the story said seven of RB's top nine managers are from outside the company.

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