Stengel remodels marketing core

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"Up or out" and "Promote from within" have long guided the culture at Procter & Gamble Co., but James Stengel is tweaking those notions as he seeks to rebuild a corps of career marketing and advertising experts, and spark new respect for the central marketing services organization.

P&G's global marketing officer is rebuilding an advertising development group that was decimated by 1990s restructurings. And in a break from the company's longstanding tradition, his lieutenant, Advertising Development Director Lynne Boles, is looking outside the company for some of the talent, hiring and getting leads from P&G agencies among others.

It's all part of Mr. Stengel's High-Performance Marketing Organization initiative. Included are efforts begun by his predecessor Bob Wehling, such as a Harley Procter Marketer designation to honor top career marketing executives and reviving P&G's marketing training program. But other elements are new fixes Mr. Stengel developed following a study he conducted with the help of two University of Cincinnati marketing professors.

Mr. Stengel seeks to revive an advertising and marketing services organization that in recent years was eclipsed, and widely looked down upon, by line brand managers and marketing directors on their climb up the general management ladder.

When Robert W. Goldstein held the VP-advertising job, he was both widely feared and respected, with the power to enforce P&G advertising standards even on reluctant line bosses. Even after Mr. Goldstein's death in a 1987 rafting accident, his successors until the mid-1990s could veto ads that didn't conform to standards. Such copy services executives as Norm Levy and Gibbey Carey trained generations of P&Gers on the right and wrong way to make an ad, and P&G had a copy services organization that largely paralleled in structure the brand management ranks.

But the mid-`90s restructurings did away with most of the copy services ranks, now known as advertising development. And the authority and prestige of the marketing services organization largely followed the personnel out the door.

inside and outside

Even with Mr. Stengel's restoration drive, both his job and that of his advertising development group are to advise, influence and evaluate rather than make policy. But he's getting more firepower to increase the group's impact. "We have strengthened that [advertising development] group," Mr. Stengel said. "We have put more people into it. [Ms. Boles] has the charge to get the right people into the right jobs working on the right issues."

She's recruiting both from within P&G and outside to fill posts in Cincinnati and Geneva, and has brought some of P&G's European advertising experts, such as Stephen Squires and Peter Carter, to the U.S.

As part of HPMO, Mr. Stengel has developed a sort of simplified shorthand for marketing planning called the "Brand-Building Framework," incorporating four elements:

* Assessing the Landscape: consumer research and competitive intelligence.

* Who: targeting consumers and prime prospects.

* What: what should brand equity be and how does that translate into communication strategies.

* How: how to develop products and communication to acquire and keep target consumers.

To drive home the framework with P&G's 3,500 marketing executives, Mr. Stengel has appointed a Dr. Who, a Dr. What and a Dr. How.

"To me, the new [Gibbey Careys and Norm Levys] are here," Mr. Stengel said. "But they're more diverse and more multinational."

guardians of orthodoxy

While P&G's old ranks of copy experts tended to be guardians of orthodoxy, the new advertising development staffers tend to be change agents-urging brand managers and marketing directors to try more creative concepts and media, and rely less rigidly on copy test scores.

For example, during P&G's trip to Cannes last June, Mathilde Delhoume, Geneva-based global advertising development director for Pampers, was among the strongest advocates for P&G scaling back reliance on copy testing.

One of P&G's shortlisted entries in the film category last year was a spot from Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, Buenos Aires, with no language featuring numerous quick cuts of babies in action, punctuated by "ooh" and "ah" sounds from mom and dad. Had P&G relied on copy-test scores, the ad never would have aired, Ms. Delhoume said, yet it was well-received in Argentina and she believes it could be reapplied globally.

Although the framework is dismissed as overly simplistic by many in P&G's ranks, it's being inculcated through Mr. Stengel's beefed-up training program by his doctors of discipline to new generations of assistant brand managers. And it has the backing of Chairman-CEO A.G. Lafley, who has strived to bring discipline, clarity and simplicity to P&G thinking that he saw as overly theoretical when he took over as CEO in 2000.

"What differentiates us as a company is we still have strong discipline in thinking," Mr. Stengel said. "Once you understand who is important to the future and what your equity is and what you're selling and what's important to your future ... then go wild in terms of thinking."

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