On May 13, 1931, soon after an assignment in England where he
got to scout the growing threat from rival Lever Bros. at close
range, P&G executive Neil McElroy crafted his famous memo
outlining the brand-management system.
It was really an argument for a bigger budget and staffing for
the "Promotion Department" staffed by "brand men" and requiring a
legion of "assistant brand men" to meticulously rate strong and
weak local markets, then develop plans to address the "sore spots"
and assure "the amount of money proposed can be expected to produce
results at a reasonable cost per case."
That memo would help spawn an army of analytical brand managers
what would become a model and a talent source for much of marketing
for decades to come.
In 1932, P&G would launch the first radio soap opera (the
"Puddle Family" on WLW in Cincinnati to qualify the idea before the
national rollout of "Ma Perkins" in 1933). By 1939, P&G would
run its first TV ad during a broadcast of a baseball game announced
by Red Barber.
That eagerness to be first with media and marketing propositions
continued through the decades. P&G was among the earliest
advertisers on TV when it shifted its radio soap operas in 1950. It
was among the first big players on cable in the late 1970s and
early 1980s, and was among the first to launch corporate and brand
websites in the mid-1990s.
That tradition of leading the way prompted former Chairman-CEO
Ed Artzt to make his speech in 1994 to the American Association of
Advertising Agencies warning of the disruptive potential of
"interactive" advertising. P&G's early interactive efforts
prove the company was geared toward ensuring the web would develop
as an advertising-friendly medium.
Realistically, P&G gets to reshape marketing today in part
out of sheer status. As the perennial largest advertiser in the
U.S. and the world, it tends to be the first stop for just about
any new marketing or media proposition. The ability to say "P&G
is doing it" aids sales pitches both because of its history and
scale and because of the legion of P&Gers scattered across the
"We end up influencing the industry broadly because we are so
focused on making sure we stay ahead of consumers and stay with
consumers," said P&G Global Brand-Building Officer Marc