Procter & Gamble’s brand chief officer Marc Pritchard wants to understand how to prove when digital marketing investment leads to a sale, rather than just adding to the noise.

Marc Pritchard, P&G’s Chief Brand Officer says it’s time to “disrupt this archaic ‘Mad Men’ model, eliminating the siloes between creatives, clients and consumers, and stripping away anything that doesn’t add to creative output.”


“Expectations are rising”

Speaking to Marketing Week in March this year, Pritchard said: “The next frontier with the big players is going to be getting a consumer signal that helps us make sure that investment actually results in a sale and that it doesn’t add excess frequency. (…) I want to know if I reach you, and I don’t need to know it’s you specifically, but I need to know it’s a person and that I don’t reach that person 10 other times. And that if I reach you that it actually leads to a sale.”

Pritchard demanded transparency from the digital industry, and outlined five actions they were taking with other companies by the end of the calendar year to raise the bar on transparency:

  • Adopt one viewability standard: so we know whether an ad has the chance to be seen
  • Get third-party, accredited verification: so we know we’re getting the media reach and frequency that we paid for
  • Demand transparent agency contracts: so we know what our agencies are doing with our money
  • Eliminate fraud: so we know humans see our ads, not robots
  • Ensure brand safety: so we know our ads show up in the right environment, not in a terrorist video. “

In 2017, P&G announced their plan to cut a whopping $2 billion in marketing spending over five years.  In a speech at ISBA’s annual conference in London in March 2018, P&G revealed it made massive cuts from its digital ad budget last year after new data revealed how many people see its ads and how long they watch for. P&G found that average view time for an ad on a mobile newsfeed was just 1.7 seconds, which Pritchard called “little more than a glance”.

And so P&G reduced digital spending on several major digital platforms by between 20% and 50% in 2017, cutting spending by $200m over the year.

“Will we get back to the investment levels we were at before with Google and Facebook? That depends.”

Rethinking the relationship with agencies

P&G is looking to change the way they work with agencies, describing the current system as an “archaic Mad Men model”.

“What we are really trying to do is get more of our brand people to literally have their hands on the keyboard, to really behave as brand entrepreneurs and startup players.”

Pritchard explains that only half of agency resources are creatives, a figure which he believes should be closer to 75%.

“We relinquished too much control. (…) Now we’re saying no. We have more of our own data, more of our own analytics, so we can make decisions as to where things need to go.”

P&G’s goal is to be focusing more on data/analytics – hiring data scientists – and moving away from project management. “In the IT world there will be less project management, same thing at the brand level. Less project management and more true brand entrepreneurship,” Pritchard explains.

Where does that leave the agencies, then? Marc Pritchard explained that P&G needs brilliant creatives, and will invest in such talent. However, as mentioned before, he regrets that “creatives represent less than half of agency resources, because they’re surrounded by excess management, buildings and overhead.”

P&G would also like to see media and creative working more closely together, to create a “fully integrated, seamless team”.

“It’ll be more of an end-to-end operation, we’re all in it right at the beginning and there are fewer handoffs, no siloes, you are working on it together as a small integrated team,” he says.

P&G, Coca-Cola and Diageo have been the leaders in marketing for decades, but as the industry has changed dramatically and becomes more digital, is their model still the one others should follow? Pritchard explains that his company is now looking to disrupt mass marketing.

“As companies that perfected mass marketing, which was largely through proxies – demographic targets and mass advertising with a lot of waste – mass disruption means we need to reinvent that. Our intention is to lead the way, which is why I’m asking the whole industry to do it because if everyone does that we’ll all get there a lot faster and we’ll drive what we need, which is growth,” he says.