P&G recategorizes marketing directors

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Procter & Gamble Co. is reclassifying about half of its 150 to 200 marketing directors globally as lower-ranking associate marketing directors in a move to streamline its marketing organization.

The move restores a level that hasn't existed since it was eliminated in a previous restructuring under former Chairman-CEO Edwin L. Artzt a decade ago. But it won't increase the ranks of P&G's 3,400 marketers globally or add an administrative layer, said Global Marketing Officer Jim Stengel. Brand managers now will report either to a marketing director or an associate director, but not in a line that includes both.

The reclassification aims to better match job titles with actual levels of responsibility, according to P&G, so marketing directors are better prepared when they move up to general manager. It also aims to make marketers' rank and pay consistent with managers in other disciplines.

The reclassified marketing directors won't get pay cuts, but senior brand managers who get promoted will now become associate directors rather than better-paid directors.

The reclassifications are based on an analysis of job duties with input from a consulting firm, Mr. Stengel said, and don't reflect individual job performance. He said P&G will try to engineer a "soft landing" for many of the reclassified directors, letting them know they'll be in line for marketing director positions that open.

"The span of different jobs at the marketing director level was too broad," Mr. Stengel said. "We had some running global businesses and some running relatively small businesses in a region or with a retailer."

Mr. Stengel acknowledged that some marketing directors may leave rather than accept reclassification, which will open room for some brand managers to move up to the new level.

"I think everyone will take it a little differently," he said. "Someone who's a senior brand manager waiting to be promoted probably sees the introduction of a new level very positively." But P&G is looking to avoid a massive shift of people into new jobs, he said. "The last thing we want to do is disrupt the momentum we have now."

The reclassification stemmed from what Mr. Stengel calls the "High-Performance Marketing Organization" initiative he launched last fall. One big cultural change will include having managers at all levels stay in jobs longer.

"We want someone to stay in a position long enough for us to evaluate their results," Mr. Stengel said. That could mean five years for a general manager, around three for brand managers and two and a half for assistant brand managers. In the past, managers changed jobs as often as every year or two.

"If you look at my career, I had far too many moves, and when I moved too fast, I was always frustrated I didn't have the full impact I could have had," he said. "We've analyzed the brands and new products that have been most successful, and continuity has been a strong part of that."

While keeping marketers in jobs longer, P&G wants to give them broader experience with sales teams, R&D and other areas, either through temporary assignments or training, Mr. Stengel said. He also wants to remove some "non-marketing" duties from marketing jobs, such as detailed oversight of packaging changes.

The combination of a bad economy creating less turnover and prospects for longer tenure in jobs has left some senior brand managers feeling stymied, according to executives close to P&G. But prospects for associate director positions opening could lessen that, they said.

Mr. Stengel is also looking to provide more career options for marketers who don't want to become general managers and raise the profile of a marketing-services organization that in the past was seen by many P&Gers as less important than line marketing.

Among those steps, P&G is creating virtual "centers of excellence" for various marketing disciplines, headed by lead marketers who also continue in their existing positions.

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