ORLANDO, Fla. (AdAge.com) -- Procter & Gamble Co. has made many changes in marketing in recent years, but perhaps the most striking for a company long known for its deliberative style is customizing campaigns in real time. So it was fitting that when P&G Global Brand-Building Officer Marc Pritchard finished a speech to the Association of National Advertisers Masters of Marketing conference in Orlando today, he judged how he did by checking comments via Tweetdeck immediately afterward.
And two of the best-received anecdotes from Mr. Pritchard's speech both involved campaigns created over days and sometimes within hours (and both by Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore.) rather than the months and years it once took P&G to birth brand marketing efforts.
One is the massively viral "Responses" campaign in July in which Old Spice pitchman Isaiah Mustafa produced more than 180 customized videos over 48 hours to various social media and traditional celebrities, including George Stephanopoulos. That video, in which Mr. Mustafa suggested Barack Obama mandate White House use of Old Spice body wash and don only a towel in public appearances, drew a roar from a record crowd of 1,600 attendees at the event.
The other was P&G's corporate and multibrand effort behind the Winter Olympics, in which the company led with a TV ad finished only five days before the games, increased weight of one TV spot based on social-media response to a test run during the games and created another ad based on footage taken during the games.
By most accounts, all three efforts, including Mr. Pritchard's speech, were well received and helped build the brands. Old Spice sales are growing by double digits and the brand has taken the No. 1 spot in men's body wash, Mr. Pritchard said. (Though it remains tough to sort out how much of the bump comes from Mr. Mustafa and how much from an unprecedented wave of high-value coupons.)
The Winter Olympics effort bumped P&G's corporate favorability ratings 10 percentage points and accounted for $130 million in incremental sales companywide, Mr. Pritchard said.
And Mr. Pritchard said he was pleased with the response from the Twitterverse to his ANA presentation. P&G spokeswoman Tressie Rose noted that the tweets also appeared to hit on the key themes.
Mr. Pritchard now has delivered his talk on moving from selling to serving consumers in venues ranging from Russia to Cannes to now at the ANA near the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, but the latter came off as perhaps the most, well, spontaneous, even though he stuck closely to the script.
The problem with real-time decision making in a corporate behemoth, of course, is finding someone with both the authority and courage to make a decision fast. There, Mr. Pritchard said in a Q&A session with ANA CEO Bob Liodice that P&G is making progress.
"In any big company, I know it might come as a surprise to a lot of the agencies in the room, but sometimes it's hard to get a decision made," Mr. Pritchard said wryly. "We have really tried to focus very simply on who is the single person who can approve something."
That's an effort that's been a decade or more in the making, to be sure, but Mr. Pritchard cited examples of recent progress. The company now has 50 "brand franchise leaders," managers with authority for brand decisions who are senior enough that their decisions aren't likely to be overturned by higher-ups.
"That allows us to cut through a lot of stuff," he said.
A common question today at P&G is "who has the A [for authority]," he said. "We have some debate up front as to whose decision it is." He cited a new effort for P&G's "Future Friendly" sustainability campaign from BBDO Worldwide in which he personally has "the A." After conferring with colleagues globally this week, he said, "We got the decision. It would have taken months before."
Mr. Pritchard spelled out P&G's approach in developing "purpose" for brands linked to their benefits, including P&G's own umbrella corporate efforts.
"There's a lot of cynicism and distrust in the world of big institutions, and companies really need to share with people what they value, what they care about," Mr. Pritchard said. "That's why we decided to say we're in the business of helping moms, and it hit an emotional chord with people and also had a great halo effect on the rest of our brands."