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Among the changes wrought by Procter & Gamble Co.'s Agency Renewal process, none is more important than single-point accountability, according to Denis Beausejour, VP-marketing.

None will be harder to pull off, either, he admitted.

The idea is fairly simple. For every marketing project, P&G will identify an executive who will be involved from the outset and make the final decision. The level of the executive will vary by project, with anyone from an assistant brand manager on up conceivably being the sole decisionmaker on the advertising.

Previously, several management layers -- up to the CEO level -- might have had a hand in the process.

"Retaining that single-point decisionmaking throughout I think is the critical ingredient to get to speed, and to get to advertising that's not committee-based and rounded at the corners but has an edge to it, an insight to it and a provocativeness to it that is going to bring the brand proposition to light," Mr. Beausejour said.

Several P&G executives will still have input on the process, but only one will vote, he said.

"You can critique afterwards. You can coach and comment. But we're not going to re-edit the commercial because you don't like frame six," he said.


Mr. Beausejour conceded single-point accountability creates two challenges -- having the courage to stand on decisions even when higher-ups disagree and understanding the difference between coaching and decisionmaking.

"It's part of our [P&G's] culture to do those two things," he said. "But it's also part of our culture today to cover risk and all hold hands and jump off the cliff together."

One factor that makes single-point accountability harder to implement, added Global Marketing Officer Bob Wehling, "is that everyone in this company, up through the CEO, thinks they're experts on advertising copy and packaging."

R&D chemists have no problem selling top executives on new formulations, he said, adding: "But advertising, it's a different story."

As part of instituting single-point accountability, P&G is developing leadership training to start with groups of top managers and work through the ranks addressing issues such as how to stand by your decisions, Mr. Beausejour said.


Whittling down copy development from a monthslong process will likely increase the number of mistakes as well as successes, but marketing executives won't be judged on the basis of a blunder or two, he added.

"I would imagine that the average advertising decisionmaker on a normal brand in a normal career path would have the opportunity to make 10 or 15 significant advertising decisions before a point of view is really on the books on their advertising skills," Mr. Beausejour said.

Though it's trying to control internal vetting and get ads out faster, P&G is far from giving up on ad testing, Mr. Beausejour said, citing use of Information Resources Inc. BehaviorScan test markets or test runs overseas.

"Most of our great advertising . . . was not the product of a laborious 43-revision process but it was something we got to fairly quickly and put in the market, usually in one country," he said. "We don't plan on starting to change national advertising campaigns for brands at the skip of a beat without some

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