P&G, Unilever Square Off at the Venice Media Fest

Glock, Rutherford: Metrics, Creativity, Talent Are Basis for Communications

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VENICE, Italy (AdAge.com) -- The closing session of the Venice Media Festival yesterday lived up to its billing -- "The FMCG giants in the ring" -- as fast-moving consumer goods (that's packaged goods to you) powerhouse Bernhard Glock, Procter & Gamble Co.'s VP-global media and communication, was pitted against his equally formidable counterpart at Unilever, Alan Rutherford, VP-global media.
Bernard Glock

P&G's Bernard Glock places a premium on talent.

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Atop Mr. Glock's agenda: relevant and meaningful communications. "The agencies don't get it," he continued. "I need better knowledge of when and where consumers are receptive of messages, and a better understanding of consumers." He said difficulties in measurement prevent P&G and its agencies from moving faster, and that he wants consumer-centric measurement, but most measurement is still "media centric" and "made in silos with little integration."

'Content, context and contact'
"We need to know how to allocate our budget to reach our target," he said. "We want content, context and contact."

At atop of Mr. Rutherford's agenda: "To become as famous as Bernhard." Mr. Rutherford said he had been ushered into the auditorium by one of the festival staff with the enticing promise that Mr. Glock was speaking. When Mr. Rutherford asked if anyone else was on stage, he was told "No, just the P&G man."

Joking aside, Mr. Rutherford's agenda is to find and keep talent. "The world begins and ends with the consumer," he said, "and we need creative thinkers who understand the changing dynamics of the consumer and can help us get to know them."

Mr. Glock underlined the importance of talent. "We need real talent not only in our headquarters but everywhere the action happens in the market. We always want the right people in the right job in the right place."

Unilever's three principles
Unilever has three principles: Brands should transform lives or at least the way people think about themselves; they should entertain and engage; and they should collaborate with consumers to create social networks or communities. He cited the work behind Unilever's Dove and Axe brands as examples of these three principles in action.

As part of a discussion about "who sits at the top table," Mr. Glock said the default thinking is that the ad agency is the first contact, but in fact "you may need a digital or media agency instead. We need to get more flexible and targeted about who sits at the table."

Mr. Rutherford, however, said that Unilever has a set way of working, with the planning-channel agency always sitting in from the start of the process. "Communications planning is about data, and finding content that can engage with the consumer. Once this is up front, execution is easier."

P&G, Mr. Glock revealed, tries to experiment with every brand, whether in use of media, internal structures or agency relationships. "Our business managers have a dilemma. They have to deliver quarter by quarter, so they look backwards at what has worked in the past, but if you always look back you never change."

Mr. Rutherford agreed: "You've got to be brave, take risks and experiment."
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