Credited with leading P&G, the world's biggest advertising spender, into the interactive age, the 42-year-old executive is pursuing a long-time dream, said Robert L. Wehling, P&G's global marketing officer. Named to Advertising Age's Power 50 ranking for four years, Mr. Beausejour, VP-global marketing at P&G, is noted for spearheading the company's Future of Advertising Stakeholders Summit, reforming its relationships with agencies and launching its online beauty care venture, Reflect.com.
Mr. Beausejour could not be reached for comment. But in an eloquent memo sent to colleagues, Mr. Beausejour quotes from the book "Halftime," which says that "Many of us spend the first half of our life achieving success, at which point many of us turn our attention to achieving significance." Noting that he was approaching the "next chapter in my life," he wrote that he will be involved in several ministry and community-related activities in the Cincinnati area, while keeping a hand in the business world through consulting projects.
SPOT LEFT VACANT
Mr. Beausejour was widely seen as Mr. Wehling's heir apparent. His position won't be filled, at least not immediately, but others will take parts of his job. Mark Schar, VP-interactive ventures, will take oversight of interactive marketing, and a new VP-marketing for global beauty care will likely come from within that unit, Mr. Wehling said.
Mr. Wehling already had assumed most of Mr. Beausejour's global marketing duties himself for the past six months, including agency relations, as Mr. Beausejour led the team that launched Reflect.com. Agency executives don't expect any changes as a result of his departure.
"It's terrible to lose somebody like Denis, because it's hard to find people with that passion and energy and enthusiasm and creativity," Mr. Wehling said. "I think they're rare."
Even outsiders were taken aback. PaineWebber analyst and long-time P&G watcher Andrew Shore said, "I really thought [Mr. Beausejour] was a rising star." But he added, "One of the advantages of Procter & Gamble is their incredible bench strength. Their second- and third-stringers could be running a lot of other companies.
A longtime friend and colleague of Mr. Beausejour's from P&G's Asian business, Vandy Van Wagener, was surprised by the timing but not the move.
"Denis has always had strong convictions, certainly in a business context," Mr. Van Wagener said. "Those convictions have spilled over into spiritual areas in recent years. So Denis acting upon those new convictions really fits a longtime pattern."
Probably Mr. Beausejour's highest-profile accomplishment was launching the FAST Summit in 1997, which brought most of the interactive advertising world together to deal with such issues as online audience measurement and ad models.
Reflect.com was the latest in a series of high-profile assignments for Mr. Beausejour, recruited to replace Ross Love, who left in 1995 to follow his own dream of running an urban radio company. Mr. Wehling lured Mr. Beausejour to Cincinnati from his Asian general management assignment with the challenge of reforming its marketing processes and agency relationships.
That evolved into Agency Renewal, a P&G program that resulted, among other things, in changing P&G's compensation structure and requiring P&G to designate an executive with ultimate decision-making power for each advertising project.
Mr. Beausejour "definitely left an indelible mark on the history of interactive advertising," said Pete Blackshaw, a former P&G interactive brand manager who left P&G to form his own start-up Internet company. "The good news is that his passion for the [interactive] space impacted so many others around him [that] his influence is everywhere around the organization."