Alex Keith has been leading marketing for Procter & Gamble Co.'s deodorant business through a bruising battle with global rival Unilever in the U.S.
|Alex Keith, marketing director-deodorants, Procter & Gamble Co.
While Unilever has made gains -- claiming to capture dollar-share leadership with Axe -- so has P&G, as Ms. Keith has helped Old Spice continue to lead in volume among men. And she's helped rejuvenate the Secret brand with an updated selling line and marketing playbook, dropping the "men" for a deodorant that's now just "strong enough for a woman."
As P&G integrates the acquisition of Gillette Co., adding Gillette series deodorants and Tag body spray to an existing deodorant portfolio that also includes Sure, Ms. Keith will play a key role. And she's at the forefront of bringing Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., on board for Old Spice as the brand looks to maintain years of share growth while battling back faster-growing Axe.
It's a big job for a 38-year-old marketing director who just got married. But as a marathon runner and a veteran of helping turn the once-sleepy Olay into a fast-growing skin-care powerhouse, Ms. Keith has become used to challenges.
It was something of a switch for her, coming into marketing nine years ago after spending her first seven years as a chemical engineering graduate on the manufacturing and logistics side of the P&G business.
"On Friday I went from being the go-to person on everything in product supply to on Monday really not knowing how to do anything" as an assistant brand manager, she says of the career change. "I think it was a personal trait of mine, which is a classic P&G personality trait, that it made me want to learn it all the faster."
Ms. Keith was by all accounts a quick study and has since developed a reputation as one of the most progressive marketers at P&G. She's helped launch new-to-their-gender segments such as Secret Sparkle Body Spray for girls and young women and Old Spice body wash for young men behind an increasingly diverse and innovative marketing program that has included some of P&G's first MySpace and blog marketing.
"I really look at Alex as a new-world marketer," says Catherine Guthrie, exec VP-managing director at Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett Co. "She's made [Secret] a lot more relevant to young girls and older women. She's willing to experiment in terms of creative and media."