A Good Example
December 3, 2016
New ANA chairman Marc Pritchard believes advertisers have a responsibility to make ads that benefit the social good. The results, as his work at Procter & Gamble has shown, can be measured in much more than metrics
By John Patrick Pullen
Imagine a woman — an associate brand manager — in a meeting with an executive who is many rungs her superior on the corporate ladder. But he's not just any big-wig. He's the company's chief brand officer, responsible for one of the world's largest ad budgets, which fronts 20 billion-dollar brands. Well into his fourth decade with the company he has held 25 positions, ranging from a cost analyst in the paper division to his current spot, where he's the marketing industry's No. 1 power player, as Ad Age has called him. Twice.
"I was extremely nervous," says Procter & Gamble's North America Deodorants Brand Director Janine Miletic, who was in that exact scenario several years ago. "Enormous butterflies."
If her experience sounds like a scene from a recent Secret deodorant commercial, that's only a coincidence. In the Secret ad "Raise," which Miletic worked on, a young woman gives herself a bathroom mirror walk-through of a wage gap salary negotiation. In Miletic's meeting all those years ago, however, she was reviewing her brands' plans with the company's lead marketer. "It is such a memorable moment for me, because he was very thoughtful, purposeful in the questions that he asked, thought provoking, and extremely supportive," she says. "It was a touchpoint that I had extremely early on in my career, and one that I have never forgotten."
And that story — comprised of bold, compelling creative, focused business intelligence, and a deft human touch — is by most accounts what it's like to work with Marc Pritchard, P&G's chief brand officer, and the new chairman of the ANA. Well, there's his humility, too. When asked how the frantic, awkward appearance of the Secret ad's main character contributed to the spot's success (it went viral and has garnered more than 1.6 million views on YouTube since April), Pritchard instantly deflects to the campaign's team. "Janine Miletic and Bobbiejo Ehlers worked on that — they did a brilliant job on every element of casting and coming up with a performance that was so perfect and so real," he says. "You feel like you're really watching something happening."
Examining Pritchard's work at P&G is also watching something happening. A calm yet outspoken leader in an industry full of fearless voices, Pritchard has led by example, earning him the respect of his peers. He uses socially conscious campaigns to get agency partners to push their creative beyond convention. By encouraging his teams to take issue-first, not product-first risks, he instills confidence in his brand managers. And by working elbow-to-elbow with them on the campaigns, he combats the industry's talent shortage by investing his own experience in P&G's employees.
But while the campaigns he's championed have etched smiles in the minds of consumers, he isn't just doing good for goodness' sake. "It is a mutually reinforcing value," Pritchard says. "It not only creates the mental availability that allows people to remember our brands more effectively, it also creates these different attitudes and thoughts that make things better."
Take Always' "Like a Girl" campaign, for example. The Always feminine products brand had a 30-year history of empowering women. But in 2013, P&G's Always group came across a strong piece of consumer insight. The team found that of the 50 million girls who enter puberty around the world every year, more than half experience a significant drop in confidence due to the physical, emotional, and hormonal changes they go through. It's an ego hit that many never recover from. "As the brand, Always stands for confidence, and in serving these girls and women, we had to do something about it," says Fama Francisco, president of global feminine care at P&G.
Powered by that insight, P&G issued a creative challenge to the brand's agency, Leo Burnett, which delivered. At the 2014 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, where Pritchard hosts an annual meeting with P&G's leading brand builders, the agency released a 3.5-minute video that moved everyone who saw it, including Pritchard. "I was like, 'Wow,'" he recalls. "Goosebumps."
Posting the girl-empowering video online garnered amazing results. Paired with the #LikeAGirl hashtag, the campaign went viral, getting more than 85 million views from over 150 countries. The campaign transformed the public consciousness as well: Only 19 percent of people had a positive association with the phrase "like a girl" before watching the video. After viewing it, positive association shot up to 76 percent.
Six months later, P&G saw an opportunity to do more with Like a Girl, but the clock was counting down to advertising's biggest day of the year, 2015's Super Bowl. Paring down the three-plus minute spot to 30 or even 60 seconds seemed impossible. In January, just weeks before the big game, Francisco recalls meeting daily with Pritchard, a core team, and partner agencies to pull off what was the industry's equivalent of a quarterback sneak. Always was maneuvering to be the first feminine hygiene brand to take on football's biggest game, and Pritchard was right in the middle of the huddle. "I can't think of a more hands-on partner than that, working with you every day just to get it right," Francisco says.
Michele Baeten, associate brand director for Always, recalls being on a call at midnight, Geneva time, 14 days prior to the game. "To be able to pull the plan together and have the CMO on call — that's really Marc," she says. "Marc's words were, 'Michele if you need me you just call me,' and he's true to that …. He's really there for you."
Pritchard pulled out all the stops to maximize Like a Girl's gameday impact, wrangling his contacts to secure airtime and spending whatever it took to buy the slot. As a result, the 60-second spot wasn't just a player that day.
As one of the industry's most heralded campaigns with more than 200 awards, it's practically become a franchise. "Four videos later, it is probably one of the most culturally game-changing campaigns and platforms for girl empowerment around the world," Francisco says.
If there's a bigger challenge than advertising a product at the Super Bowl, it's representing the entire consumer packaged goods company at the Olympics. That was the creative task Pritchard threw to agency partner Wieden + Kennedy, when P&G announced it would sponsor Team U.S.A. for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. "Marc wanted his agencies to do more than just come back with the traditional TV, and to think more about doing things differently," says Dave Luhr, W+K's president, who began working with Pritchard on the over-the-top, masculine Old Spice campaigns. "He talked about using insights to build a campaign, touch lives, and improve life."
Pritchard saw the importance of the Olympic moment not just for what it would do for P&G’s brands, but for the company as a whole.
Conventional wisdom for the Olympics spots would have been to feature products, but Pritchard demanded creative that would transcend the product. Instead, W+K came back with the "Thank You, Mom" campaign, an 18-brand effort that linked P&G with both its products and its consumers by focusing on the mothers of athletes, instead of the medal-winners themselves. "We celebrate moms because moms are the primary consumers of our brand," Pritchard says.
"Marc does a really good job of staying open minded, finding the big idea, and then challenging the agencies to push harder," Luhr says. According to Luhr, Pritchard saw the importance of the opportunity and the Olympic moment not just for what it would do for P&G's brands, but for the company as a whole.
Initially, however, P&G didn't have a budget set aside for what was essentially a corporate branding campaign. "Marc went around and talked to his different brands, got a budget, and pushed P&G to produce the Thank You, Mom campaign." Luhr says. "He does a very good job of rallying the troops — it's clear to me that Marc has respect in that organization and can get things done."
In the subsequent Olympics, P&G took their messaging to an even larger stage, partnering with the International Olympic Committee to sponsor the worldwide games themselves, for the five Olympics following Vancouver. So far, the results have been medal-worthy.
Since the launch in 2010, the campaign has generated 85 billion earned impressions globally. By simply being associated with the Olympics, brand equity increased dramatically, driving incremental sales. "Strong," the newest video in the campaign, was everywhere at the 2016 Rio games. It launched in 35 markets, kicking off P&G's Olympics program just before Mother's Day. To date, the video has been viewed more than 220 million times in 28 languages, with a paid/earned ratio that performed almost 30 percent better than industry average. And it was one of 21 award-winning P&G campaigns at Cannes this year. Talk about bringing home the gold.
Change the World
As humble as he is, it's clear that Pritchard is honored by the acclaim his company's work has garnered, but the chief brand officer aspires to more than just awards. When discussing the myriad campaigns that he touches, he takes particular pride in the Glass Lion–winning campaigns: Always' "Like a Girl," Ariel laundry detergent's "Share the Load," and SK-II skin care's "Marriage Market Takeover." Celebrating campaigns that challenge issues of gender inequality or prejudice, the Glass Lion isn't about promoting businesses or brands. It's about changing the world.
"When we come up with advertising and creative work that reflects the insights and the attitudes of the people we serve, and offer them the products and the experiences that they want, that is how our brands grow," Pritchard says. "It is business value, and it is societal value."
SK-II's Marriage Market Takeover was a daring video that challenged the longstanding traditions of China, where women who weren't married by age 25 suddenly became "leftover women" and second-class citizens. Hoping to spare them this fate, their parents would advertise for them in the Shanghai Marriage Market.
Pairing this consumer insight with Pitera, a byproduct of yeast fermentation from a specific strand of yeast and SK-II's miracle ingredient for firming and tightening skin, yielded the new marketing message of "Changing Destiny." The resulting four-minute video is an earnest, heart-wrenching depiction of what happened when these women posted marriage market ads of their own. Only they weren't looking for husbands; instead they campaigned for acceptance of their desire to live independently, at least until they found love on their own terms.
"The marriage situation in China is a very relevant situation — it's a big part of the culture there," says Patrice Louvet, group president in charge of beauty at P&G. "When we engaged in it, we knew we were on to something that was going to have significant impact in the way the brand was going to be perceived, and the role that the brand could play in our consumers' lives."
In its first six months, Market's effect was staggering. It had reached 1.4 billion consumers and generated 32 million online views while helping China to become SK-II's fastest growing market.
To Louvet, the success is not a surprise. "Marc's in it to help others," he says. "It's not about his ego or his personal agenda. It's about setting others up for success and creating the condition where people can leverage their full potential — that's his motivation."
To be clear, Louvet was talking about how Pritchard leads at P&G, though the comment could also describe the role of his work in the world at large. Pritchard's campaigns for social good have built confidence, instilled pride, and encouraged acceptance, not just within his industry, but in everyone who is watching. That is some reach.
LEADING THE ANA'S MORE THAN 1,000 MEMBER COMPANIES — which make up more than 15,000 brands and spend more than $250 billion on advertising — is an enormous challenge. While at times the various members are competitors, they also need to work together to move the industry forward.
"Each one of us can do our part on our brands and companies, but that's not enough," said Pritchard in his chairmanship acceptance speech at the ANA Masters of Marketing Conference in Orlando, Fla., earlier this year. "We need to also come together to be a force for economic and societal good." To that end, there are three areas Pritchard intends to focus on as chairman of the ANA.
1. Improving advertising quality: Over the past few years, consumers have increasingly employed ad blocking technology to push back against the collection of data and performance drags on their computers, but Pritchard thinks the industry doesn't need a technological response. "Ad blocking is not the problem, it's a symptom of a deeper problem — crappy advertising," he says. The new chairman is challenging ANA members to make a difference by elevating the craft and delivering ads of the highest quality.
"It's more challenging than ever with the array of media and platforms technology brings, but it's more exciting than ever with the creative innovations that technology affords," he says.
2. Increasing accountability: Media transparency across the entire industry — from agencies to measurement suppliers — is another urgent issue that must be remedied, says Pritchard. "We're all spending too much of our time and wasting investment on non-standard and faulty measurement," he says. "There are too many touches, and too many players grading their own homework."
Pritchard thinks it's time that the industry bands together to solve these problems by holding all players accountable for adopting common and transparent measurement standards, as well as third-party verification. "If we can invent technology for driverless cars and virtual reality experiences, we can find a way to track and verify media accurately," he says.
3. Being a force for good: In crafting everyday advertising that touches on issues that matter to consumers, brands not only develop affinity, they also affect societal change. "Our voice can be used to step up on important matters such as gender equality and racial bias, diversity and inclusion, and environmental sustainability," Pritchard says. "The advertising industry can be a force for good, because our ads can promote positive conversations, influence attitudes, and change behavior to make our world a better place." Pritchard is committing to personally use the power of both the ANA and P&G to help the industry be a leader in this constantly evolving arena.
"We have an opportunity and a responsibility," says Pritchard, who is convinced that when advertisers step up, they'll not only improve their brands' standing with consumers, but also the lives of the people that those brands serve. "[Let's] think about what more we can do — individually and collectively — to fully realize our impact."
This article first appeared in the December 2016 issue of ANA magazine.
Image credit: Pritchard/courtesy of P&G
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