Digital Conference

Where P&G Sees Future of Digital Going and Its Impact on Agencies, Creative

Ahead of Ad Age's Digital Conference, Marc Pritchard Talks About How Digital Reshapes Relationships and Strategies

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P&G's Marc Pritchard
P&G's Marc Pritchard

Procter & Gamble Co. Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard, steward of the largest ad budget on earth, started his career in finance, and after shifting into brand and general management spent a year 20 years ago on special assignment developing P&G's corporate information technology strategy.

So he's been thinking about digital since the early days. And on his watch as the company's chief marketer since 2008, P&G has shifted more than a third of its U.S. media budget to digital. In recent years he's been saying that all media is essentially digital in some way shape or form.

When he takes the stage in April at the 10th annual Ad Age Digital Conference in New York, Mr. Pritchard will talk about P&G's digital journey, including stories behind some of the company's higher-profile digital efforts. These include the Always #LikeAGirl campaign and Pantene's recent "Dad-Do" ads featuring NFL players doing their daughters' hair, which muscled their way into the Super Bowl ad buzz via online video despite airing in only seven spot markets nationally during the game.

Having just concluded a big North American media review and continuing efforts to reduce agency fees and production costs, Mr. Pritchard will also talk about how the rise of digital marketing is affecting agency relationships. Here are his thoughts on a couple of those issues:

Ad Age: Are more issue or equity types of efforts -- such as Always #LikeAGirl or Pantene Dad-Do -- an inevitable outgrowth of digital and social media, where viewership is entirely voluntary, so the work has to be more entertaining? Is it still possible to get messages out about product benefits in this environment?

Marc Pritchard: It's not "either" product benefit "or" emotional messages -- it's "and." Digital technology gives us the opportunity to express our brand equities across a much broader creative canvas -- from product superiority, ideas that touch the heart, how-to videos, and points of view on environmental sustainability and social responsibility. Every message contributes to paint a complete creative picture of the brand, which makes it more memorable for consumers.

Ad Age: Is it better for an agency to have all the digital resources it needs in-house, or under the holding company roof, or does it make more sense for them to have a smaller core team with the ability to find resources as needed on the outside?

Mr. Pritchard: With the exponential growth of digital technology, the industry is still evolving, and I don't think a best approach has been found yet. We would prefer to work with one agency partner from creative to execution to drive speed, quality and equity consistency, but we're not there yet. The most progress has been made on creative, but there is still a lot of technical execution where additional agencies are needed.

Editor's note: Hear more from Marc Pritchard in person during the Ad Age Digital Conference, April 5-6 in New York City. Details here.

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