A Report From Our Embedded Reporter


28 Executives Arrive With Special Journals in Hand

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CANNES (AdAge.com) -- Like the Marines, when Procter & Gamble Co. lands, it goes in with overwhelming forces and a plan.
AdAge.com's Jack Neff is embedded with P&G forces in Cannes.
P&G's beachhead at Cannes is no exception.

A force of 28
In its first-ever visit to the International Advertising Festival, P&G was set to hit the French Riviera on Wednesday with a force of 28, not including companions, a legion of affiliated ad agency personnel and an embedded journalist.

P&G is bringing some big guns to bear on Cannes. Besides Global Marketing Officer Jim Stengel, its landing party has at least five vice presidents, including Michael Kehoe, vice president of global oral care; Robert Jongstra, vice president of global hair care; and Fabrizio Freda, vice president of global snacks and beverages.

Armed with journals
At some companies, stationing such a large cadre of executives a stone's throw from the topless beaches of Cannes might create the faintest aroma of junket. But lest anyone get the idea it was here for fun, P&G's contingent has come armed with journals that include detailed agendas marking off in military time both P&G events and "recommended Cannes seminars."

"Although P&G's presence at Cannes is surprising to many in the industry -- and even to some of our colleagues at P&G -- I believe it's consistent with our goals," says a preface from Mr. Stengel in the journals.

Surprising indeed. The P&G crew and its embedded journalist aren't the only Cannes virgins. Experiencing Cannes anew are many

Photo: Jack Neff
P&G's first major Cannes festival foray is tightly scripted. An official journal lays out goals and procedures for the visit.
of P&G's account executives. P&G's agencies seldom submitted P&G work for Lions consideration, confided one agency executive, not necessarily because they didn't believe it would win, but because they didn't think the clients would care.

A hipper P&G
Au contraire! The newer, hipper, 21st-century P&G is coming to see creativity as another essential tool for winning the consumer, who, as Chairman-CEO A.G. Lafley and his troops are wont to say, "is boss."

"P&G believes creative advertising builds brands," Mr. Stengel explains in his journal preface. "At a time when consumers have a growing number of choices, great creative will help us connect on a deeper level."

Four objectives
So the P&G landing party will not let Cannes "learnings," to use the company lingo, go to waste. The journals outline four objectives and eight questions for executives to frame note-taking and help "gather meaningful information and insight as we attend Cannes events and interact with other Cannes participants." Case in point:

  • "Provide inspiration to managers through concentrated exposure to the best advertising in the industry. This serves as both external benchmarking and a personal learning opportunity."

  • "Send a powerful signal to the industry about P&G's commitment to attracting the best creative talent doing their best work for our brands."

  • "Create a training/inspirational event that participants can deploy back to their organizations."

  • "Determine the scope of P&G's future participation in the Cannes International Advertising Festival."

    An earlier version of the agenda contained these time-management tips: "Please make every effort to attend all P&G events. Use open time to view shortlist of Print, [Direct Marketing] and Outdoor [Lion entries]. Also view all Film submissions in two or three of the 28 categories that are most relevant to your business."

Suggested attire
Special forces from P&G's European headquarters in Geneva laid the groundwork by securing a map showing Cannes' hotels and other strategic sites and gathering intelligence on the indigenous population. Under "Suggested Attire," a note reads: "As it's Cannes and it's full of creatives, they all wear the same color (black). For most events, anything goes."

Lest it appear P&G is all work and no play, consider Question No. 8, to be deliberated at Saturday afternoon's debriefing: "Who has the best Cannes tan? Worst?"

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