In an era when so many forms of media are competing for consumer eyeballs, P&G is hoping that continually surprising viewers with innovative campaigns that weave together entertainment, sports and its brand message will help it cut through the clutter.
That mentality drove its recent campaign for Tide, which featured integrations with Sunday Night Football, The Voice and other NBC properties. Bud Light even created an ad playing off the “Laundry Night” theme without mentioning Tide.
P&G chief brand officer Marc Pritchard used that four-week Tide campaign to kick off a session at the ANA Masters of Marketing conference in Orlando, Fla., about brand building and disrupting the market before it disrupts you.
“Mass marketing is being disrupted, but we’re doing whatever we can to lead constructive disruption by reinventing brand building to drive growth,” Pritchard said.
Following Pritchard’s talk, Adweek caught up with the CPG giant’s chief marketer to talk about some issues that are top of mind for many marketers at the moment.
Earlier this year, Pritchard was named co-chair of the ANA’s #SeeHer movement, which was founded three years ago to eliminate gender bias in advertising and media.
Pritchard said that a recent analysis found that 80% of its ads score greater than 100 on #SeeHer’s Gender Equality Measure (GEM), a methodology that identifies unconscious gender bias. According to P&G, a score of 100 or better indicates the accurate portrayal of women and girls in ads.
He said this score has been steadily improving over the past three years since the company first started testing ads with GEM.
“Our brands that have the most gender equal campaigns tend to do the best,” he said. According to #SeeHer, high GEM scores correlate to improved ROI.
He also said that the scoring system has helped P&G look at ads differently.
“By just doing that, in addition to all our work on gender equality and using our voice in advertising to eliminate bias, it’s just heightened our awareness,” he said. “Now [we] look at an ad a lot differently than before to make sure it’s truly an accurate portrayal.”
When shoppers are in the grocery aisle choosing among Tide, a competitor or a private label, what’s the last bit of marketing that can get a brand off the shelf and into a grocery cart? Now, it might be a coupon dispenser. In the near future, it might be a QR code that brings up an AR experience explaining the product, displaying a coupon or even playing a video to entertain an antsy child at the store.
Pritchard said P&G is looking at various iterations of these in-store experiences that can help build brands. Much of what Pritchard said P&G is doing across its portfolio is using tech to personalize the consumer experience. At the first smart store for SK-II, shoppers can go through a range of activations that measure their approximate “skin age” and color complexion. The results allow SK-II to recommend personalized products to improve a shoppers’ skincare routine.
Pritchard said P&G is also taking technology a step further by embedding it into products, which can engage consumers on a daily basis and could eliminate the need for advertising. He used the Oral-B Genius toothbrush as example. It tracks where you brushed your teeth and how hard, relaying that info to a smartphone. It provides users with instant feedback they can use to shape their brushing habits or show their dentists.
P&G recently made the decision to take its Secret deodorant brand’s creative capabilities in-house after working with agencies including Wieden + Kennedy and Berlin Cameron. Pritchard said this has helped the brand cut costs and be more efficient.
“One of the things that the Secret team found is that it was just taking too long to get things done. And it was too expensive,” he said. “They didn’t feel like they were getting the quality that they wanted.”
He said bringing creative capabilities in-house has helped Secret create work “for a tenth of the cost and for a fifth of the time.” Additionally, he said, the deodorant brand is now able to more quickly respond to what’s happening in pop culture.
However, Secret’s decision to bring its creative work internally doesn’t necessarily signal a larger shift at P&G. From a creative standpoint, Pritchard said the company is more and more relying on what it calls a “fixed and flow” agency model, which allows brands to work with a core partner on things like big brand campaigns but tap smaller shops for other projects.
“That has been very, very productive,” he said. “The ‘fixed-and-flow’ [model] has really amped up our creativity.”
Navigating consumer data
Pritchard threw out an eye-popping number: P&G has collected 1.5 billion consumer IDs, which mix anonymous and personally identifiable information, or PII, data. With CCPA and other data privacy laws looming, P&G is looking at all the different possible standards and taking the highest one in order to meet them all.
“The most important way to navigate is to make sure that when we ask a consumer, to give us some information is that we get clear permission,” Pritchard said, adding that P&G is driving its marketing toward achieving mass reach using one-on-one to precision.
For example, Pritchard said that by analyzing set-top box data, Tide discovered it was reaching the same household 22 times per month. That insight allowed Tide to make more thoughtful buys in specific programs to cut excessive spending.