|P&G Chairman-CEO A.G. Lafley is bringing his top executives from around the world to the Cannes Lions Festival.
P&G's multinational force also includes senior managers from five of its 10 biggest brands, plus top executives from China and Russia.
And this year, they're in it to win it.
'We want to win'
"It's not enough to just go to Cannes," said Global Marketing Officer Jim Stengel. "We want to win at Cannes." Work he saw during a recent Latin American trip is one factor that makes him feel P&G will bring home more than the three print Lions -- and no TV prizes -- won last year.
It's a little-known fact that P&G actually won the Grand Prix twice at Cannes, in 1970 and 1973, for Camay soap and Crest toothpaste commercials. This year, Del Campo Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi's Pampers print and TV work from Argentina may be P&G's showstopper.
A more reserved Stephen Squire, the advertising-development director who has organized P&G's Cannes trips, pronounces himself "quietly confident," but declines to predict victories. "I think we learned [last year] we could be much more ambitious about our advertising," Mr. Squire said. "We have 3,500 marketers in the world, so we're not going to change everybody overnight."
'What Women Want'
But Cannes, and subsequent events in the U.S. and Europe where P&G brand teams and agency creatives jointly reviewed work from the festival, inspired P&G marketers, he said. P&G has tweaked some Cannes plans, "based on our learnings from last year," Mr. Squire said. Once again, P&G will hold a panel with creatives from outside agencies. But unlike last year, when the outside creatives critiqued P&G's reel, the 2004 panel will discuss "What Women Want: Creativity that Connects."
"Most of our products, after all, are sold to women," Mr. Squire said.
Like the last time, he said, "most of our activities will be centered around our agency partners and reinforcing the networking opportunities. And we're going to view as much advertising as we can."
Mr. Squire and crew declined to offer fellow travelers tips on Cannes nightlife and entertainment. Realistically, when they weren't viewing advertising, their friends at Publicis Groupe, Grey Global Group and the International Advertising Festival kept their schedules sufficiently booked and their glasses sufficiently full, so they never had to look far for fun.
"The networking experience, the total immersion in advertising, is much bigger than just sitting in your office looking at the shortlist reel," Mr. Squire said. "I think for clients it's huge."