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Leave it to a great marketer to package a marketing program for marketers. Procter & Gamble Co.'s creation of the "Harley Procter" designation for career marketing directors is a good move that gives marketing pros an alternative to a job track into general management.

Robert Wehling, P&G's global marketing officer, notes most P&G senior marketing executives proceed on an "up or out" system -- they either eventually move up into general management or out of the company.

But Mr. Wehling notes at least some of P&G's roughly 200 marketing directors want to make a career of marketing. The Harley Procter program -- named after the son of a P&G founder -- is meant to reward and retain these professionals.

P&G is not rewarding its Harley Procters with cash; it's cachet -- and a company-funded, month-long "externship" at least every two years. Kudos to P&G for investing in the training of its most seasoned marketeers. To be sure, Harley Procters will be fair game for headhunters. If you need a chief marketing officer, where better to look than to P&G's top grade? But that's a risk worth taking. A company built on great marketing is formally creating a career path that can keep marketing executives doing what they do best. This is a good way to motivate and retain the seasoned, senior talent P&G needs, and to give younger marketing executives another reason to stick around.

We hope Harley Procter is not seen as a consolation prize for those who don't move into broader management. But a great packaged goods marketer can package the honor as something to which P&G's best and brightest will aspire. Harley

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