In a move to hold onto marketing talent amid a massive reorganization and sluggish sales growth, Procter & Gamble Co. is creating the new designation "Harley Procter marketer" for top marketing directors who don't want to become general managers.
The new class of marketers will retain marketing director duties and get no automatic pay hike, but will get company-funded one-month "externships" at least once every two years to broaden their marketing knowledge.
SON OF FOUNDER
Named after the son of a P&G founder and the man who pioneered consumer advertising at P&G in 1883, the new Harley Procter marketers will share knowledge with others in brand management through the company's marketing intranet, participate in annual symposiums and serve as consultants to senior management on marketing conundrums.
Harley Procter marketers will make what a spokeswoman called "a career commitment to marketing." Though some still may opt for general management positions, most are expected to remain marketing directors until retirement.
"I've always been uncomfortable with the fact that advertising and marketing in the past have been . . . so focused on what loosely could be called an up-or-out system, where people in effect graduate from marketing to general management," said Robert L. Wehling, P&G's global marketing officer.
The general management path "works for 90%-plus of our people," Mr. Wehling said. But he added: "There are some people who are outstanding in marketing, . . . have a passionate love of marketing and would rather spend the bulk of their career more directly in marketing than in the other challenges that general managers have."
P&G named its first three Harley Procter marketers last week and expects ultimately to have 10 to 12 among its roughly 200 marketing directors globally.
BOSSES MAKE NOMINATIONS
The master marketers are nominated by their bosses and selected by Mr. Wehling in concurrence with Chairman-CEO Durk Jager.
For P&G, the goal in creating the distinction is at least as much to bolster its reputation and share in the talent market as to find new ways of beating its rivals in package goods.
"I look at [the Harley Procter marketer program] as a way for P&G to regain our hard marketing edge and rebuild our image as the best marketer in the world," said Elizabeth Ronn, global marketing director of baby care and one of the first class of Harley Procter marketers.
MARKETING TALENT LOST
"We've lost some outstanding marketers simply because they're not as attracted to the general management career path as they are to applying marketing skills," said Ed Burghard, another Harley Procter marketer.
While Mr. Burghard believes he could be a good general manager, he also said P&G has a number of marketing directors who possess the skills to be good general managers.
"The skills that I have in the marketing area are unique, particularly in the pharmaceutical marketing arena, and I wanted to apply those to the company's benefit," Mr. Burghard said.
For John Bennett, a former sales manager who's now P&G's marketing director for food, beverage and tissue/towel products, the "externship" is most appealing.
MARKETING TO KIDS, TEENS
"My initial thought is to use that money and time to research the whole area of marketing to kids and teens," Mr. Bennett said.
P&G's current Organization 2005 restructuring has at least temporarily thinned the ranks of general managers, particularly in Europe. However, Mr. Wehling said the Harley Procter program is not meant as a substitute for diminishing opportunities to advance.
"We've publicly committed ourselves to doubling the business," Mr. Wehling said. "I can't see how we can double the business without creating a pretty healthy