The heightened focus on marketers and their related costs will
spur marketers to better use analytics, Mr. Dibadj said. It's no
longer just about justifying media budgets or outside expenses --
now it's about marketers saving their own jobs.
"Many of these companies have become more analytical, and when
your top line isn't growing, it's hard to prove what your marketing
department is doing for you," he said.
Also behind the recent wave of marketing-department cuts: Companies
are trying to unravel the overlapping duties of the global and
local organizations set up in the 1990s. Global marketers are
winning at the expense of regional ones.
The cuts by P&G and Unilever are virtually identical in that
regard. P&G Chief Financial Officer Jon Moeller said after a
company investor gathering last year that most of its marketer cuts
were among regional or local positions.
Unilever Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Keith Weed
said at his company's investor meeting last week that the 12% cut
in its 7,000-person marketing organization would focus on the
regional level, too, as global marketers more often "go direct to
big countries rather than through regional hubs."
"Even Colgate, which has arguably been one of the leanest
companies, is looking to cut people in the local area," Mr. Dibadj
That movement goes hand in hand with increased use of global
advertising, something both Mr. Weed and P&G Global Brand
Building Officer Marc Pritchard have championed in recent years.
That's led to fewer, bigger initiatives by both companies and
efforts to cut or control their agency and production fees. Fewer
initiatives means less need for marketers.
Unilever has been most vocal about the need to reduce these
"non-working media costs," which the company said have fallen to an
expected 24% of advertising and promotion spending this year from
32% last year. The goal is to reach 20% eventually.
Despite cutbacks by big consumer-product companies, Greg Welch,
senior partner at SpencerStuart who works on its global consumer
goods and services practice, said he isn't seeing signs of a broad
slowdown in marketing hiring.
To be sure, even as Unilever looks to cut marketers, it's still
bringing on new ones with a focus on candidates with
information-technology experience, according to people familiar
with the matter.
A Unilever spokeswoman couldn't be reached for comment by
deadline regarding the hiring. But at the investor meeting Mr. Weed
spelled out a vision that wasn't just about paring costs. "The
marketing world has changed dramatically," he said. "There's an
awful lot we can do to tailor our organization."