P&G Advertising Strategy

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For marketing students at IIM Ahmedabad, 9th of January, 2011, is anything but a typical Sunday. They have resisted the temptation to join their batchmates in a lazy basketball game and appear oblivious to the cheerful riotous frenzy of the kite festival on the banks of the Sabarmati. 

Instead they have been pitted against each other all morning in a brand exercise organised and masterminded by P&G. The prize? A dinner date for the teams with a man responsible for running the marketing function of one of the most powerful FMCG companies on the planet, Marc Pritchard , global marketing and brand building officer, P&G. 

However, even students who do not make the cut get a chance to experience Pritchard firsthand when he addresses a respectably packed hall that evening. Soon after he’s done, the questions fly thick and fast. These include some potentially embarrassing posers. How does P&G feel, one student wants to know, about its campaigns being ambushed by its archrival HUL? 

Few people have forgotten the teaser campaign about a mystery shampoo last year (that was revealed to be P&G’s Pantene) being hijacked by Dove from the HUL stable. Pritchard opts to take the high road on this one: “We can’t prevent any competitor from ambush (surprise attack). But if you focus on the consumer, what your brand is doing to serve the consumer and if you have a big idea, you will win most of the time.” 

And that’s a running theme through pretty much everything that Pritchard has to say. Whether he’s addressing students at IIM-A, the media or an audience at the Cannes Lions Festival, he’s a tireless champion of brands serving consumers or “purpose driven branding.” 

P&G spent most of the 1990s establishing a global footprint. Now, according to Pritchard, it finally has the chance to live up to its purpose. The first step was getting senior management to define a purpose for each of the brands in the P&G stable: a blueprint on how the company could touch and improve...
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