The review doesn't affect some other BBDO shaving business with
P&G, including billion-dollar brand Braun, the Venus women's
brand and The Art of Shaving, but it's by far the biggest piece of
the business in P&G's biggest market.
P&G executives said the review won't extend outside North
America -- for now.
"We're going to start first in North America," Mr. Pritchard
said, "because that 's where we really want to improve our
advertising. And we'll see where it goes from there. It could
eventually extend to global."
Adding to the stakes is that , given the historical schedule of
Gillette launching new men's razor systems about once every eight
years, the successor to Fusion in the U.S. would be due by late
next year or early 2014.
Patrice Louvet, who's been on the job as president-global
grooming and shave care since last year, declined to comment on
plans for a new system, but said, "We try to be a bit
unpredictable, so I don't think the past necessarily forecasts the
future on this one." Overall, he said he'd like to increase the
pace of Gillette innovation.
For BBDO, which joined the P&G roster in 2005 when the CPG
giant acquired Gillette for $63 billion, losing Gillette in the
U.S. would be significant financially and historically. BBDO has
handled Gillette since it acquired the Clyne Maxon agency in 1966,
and Maxon had held the account continuously since 1937 following a
four-year hiatus after first winning the business in 1931.
BBDO's work is perhaps best known for "The Best a Man Can Get,"
a tagline that first appeared in a 1989 Super Bowl ad behind the
Atra shave system. That tagline has survived through subsequent
launches of the Sensor, Mach 3 and Fusion systems.
But Gillette hasn't always been getting the best marketing a
brand can get in North America, Mr. Pritchard and Mr. Louvet
Mr. Louvet said Gillette lost some share in the U.S. in recent
years due to a combination of a slow economy, more value-conscious
consumers, some men shaving less and aggressive promotion by rival
Energizer Holdings' Schick, particularly directed at the legacy
Mach 3 system.
Recent ads and promotions for Mach 3 aimed at trading up users
of disposables to the legacy brand -- a historical rarity for
Gillette -- have helped the business regain momentum in the U.S.,
Mr. Louvet said.
"From a global perspective, our Gillette business is actually
healthy and growing," he said. "Our shares are up on a past 12-,
six- and three-month basis. And even in North America, where our
business has seen some softness the past couple of years, we're
back to growth now."
Asked to name marketing that worked best for Gillette, he cited
efforts from Latin America on Mach 3 Sensitive and India's "Women
Against Lazy Stubble" work. He also pointed to the work behind
Fusion ProGlide over the past two years in the U.S. and the launch
here of the Fusion ProGlide Styler earlier this year.
While happy with results from the recent Summer Olympics
program, he said the advertising was "good, but we believe there's
an opportunity to be even better and, importantly, to better
integrate the product proposition with the overall idea."
One thing that won't change is Gillette's focus on sports, which
Mr. Louvet said has deep roots and will be an even bigger focus
Despite a longtime trend in the industry for incumbents to lose
reviews, Mr. Pritchard said BBDO will be given every opportunity to
successfully defend the business.
In contrast to BBDO's long history on Gillette is Wieden's
relatively recent, offbeat and emotion-laden work on Old Spice and
P&G's corporate Olympics efforts. Would P&G be willing to
put Wieden on one of its flagship brands and a business that 's
likely the most profitable of any in packaged goods?
"Well, we'll see, " Mr. Pritchard said. "They work with us on
various businesses, and they obviously have a track record outside
the industry particularly with male-oriented products. ... We're
really looking for some fresh thinking. Work has been good, but
we're looking for great."