As director of U.S. media, he was the first executive below VP level to take charge of media for the nation's No. 2 advertiser. And the 23-year P&G veteran's career had included no previous stops in the U.S.
The 47-year-old Canadian spent the first 17 years of his career with P&G north of the U.S. border in a variety of media, promotion and marketing posts, ultimately becoming P&G's head of marketing services in Canada. In 1996, Mr. Ross headed to Mexico, developing P&G's media and promotion services operation in that country. Then he went on to bolster fledgling media operations in other countries throughout P&G's Caracas-based Latin America organization.
"It's been all good experience," Mr. Ross says. "There are some amazing similarities across markets."
But the differences also give Mr. Ross good insights, says Rich Wilson, P&G's former VP-media, who retired last fall.
"He's seen a lot of different ways of doing things, which is good in a sense because it causes you to challenge a lot of the accepted ways," says Mr. Wilson, noting that Mr. Ross established a strong track record of hiring and training country media managers in Latin America. When Mr. Wilson decided to retire, he and P&G Global Marketing Officer Bob Wehling lobbied to bring Mr. Ross in to run U.S. media. "He's doing a super job," Mr. Wilson says.
In his first year, Mr. Ross renewed and expanded P&G's cross-platform deal with Viacom Plus, Viacom's cross-media marketing unit; the pact grew from around $300 million last year to $350 million in 2002 and added product placement and retailer tie-ins to the mix. He also oversaw P&G's first cross-platform deal with Discovery Communications, a $50 million pact spanning eight cable networks and including promotional tie-ins at 167 Discovery Channel stores, product placement and a partnership between P&G's Swiffer cleaning brand and The Learning Channel's trendy "Trading Spaces" program.
But the unassuming Canadian isn't willing to pronounce such deals the wave of the future for others. "We've found it's a good way we can grow our business," Mr. Ross says. "Each advertiser and each supplier has to find that balance."