Editorial: Industry can do better than a C-

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C-minus. That's the pitiful grade Procter & Gamble's Jim Stengel gave the industry in a 10-year report card judging how well it responded to the gauntlet thrown down by former CEO Ed Artzt to reinvent the marketing model. "We're applying antiquated thinking and work systems to a new world of possibilities," Mr. Stengel said at his talk before the American Association of Advertising Agencies' media conference. "Brands that rely too heavily on mainstream media, or that are not exploring new technologies and connection points, will lose touch."

Yes, the 30-second spot has lots of life left-and it sometimes looms larger than life, as in the case of the Super Bowl. But the savviest marketers, like P&G and Johnson & Johnson, are reaching out through new touch points rather than clinging to that standard advertising model.

In one example at P&G, design has now crept up in the corporate hierarchy. The goal is for aesthetics to play a major role in product creation at the outset. With this focus, P&G is looking beyond traditional marketing metrics and instead thinking holistically.

J&J's McNeil Consumer and Specialty Pharmaceutical division, meanwhile, upended its marketing approach after Tylenol, the category leader, saw its sales slip and its ads didn't help reverse the decline. The solution was zero-based thinking, which resulted in a fresh TV approach via a new agency, augmented with a full range of efforts including consumer promotion with CBS's reality juggernaut "Survivor"; buzz marketing, including a "living billboard"; and even newspaper wraps.

Both marketers are to be applauded for having the courage to take chances and shatter the status quo. But as Mr. Stengel said in his address, there's still a long way to go to earn a better grade. The industry "must be ready to embrace risk-taking for the sake of innovation, or we risk the biggest risk of all," he said. "Being left behind."

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