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Differentiate with digital

Three Things I Never Expected Marc Pritchard To Say — But Every Marketer Needs To Hear

Jim Nail
Principal Analyst
March 1, 2018

P&G CMO Marc Pritchard keynoted today’s ANA Media Conference and exhorted the marketing industry to disrupt and reinvent the craft of marketing:

Quote #1: “Disrupt mass marketing.”

Yes, you’re reading that right. The company that is if not the inventor of mass marketing, certainly the company known for perfecting it, says its time has passed. He redefined “mass marketing” as “mass clutter.” He went on to talk about reinventing media, advertising, and agency relationships around “mass reach with one-to-one precision.” Many marketers will have trouble holding these two opposing thoughts in their brain simultaneously — the continuing knock on targeting is that it can’t scale. Pritchard challenges the industry to get past this outmoded duality and learn to do both.

Quote #2: “Start with data, analytics, and measurement.”

In answer to an audience question about where to start on this reinvention, Pritchard quickly reeled off this triumvirate. For a company long powered by branding and the creativity that drives it, this may seem heretical, especially to those who mistakenly believe that creativity and branding are based on intuition or “gut.” But, in reality, it isn’t as radical as it sounds. CPG companies have long used vast amounts of data in their planning: market data, competitive data, media data. What they haven’t had is individual-level consumer data. Pritchard noted that 5 billion people globally touch P&G products every day and the company is focused on building a data asset that can leverage this massive reach. He stated that in 2017, this data enabled P&G to cut media waste by 20% while increasing reach by 10%. If a CPG company can become this data-centric, few companies have an excuse.

Quote #3: “Get your hands on the keyboard.”

And, even more radically, he went on to say, “We have outsourced too much to agencies.” One of the world’s biggest advertisers, whose brand assignments are coveted by every agency in the business, believes that it is time to take back much of this control from its longtime partners. P&G is building data and analytics capabilities in-house, as well as programmatic media buying. But he also had strong words for his own team and marketers in general: “We need fewer project managers and more brand entrepreneurs.” He illustrated today’s technology, media, and touchpoint capabilities with a range of examples spanning Tide’s clever Super Bowl spot “It’s a Tide Ad” to Olay’s Skin Advisor app that diagnoses your skin from a selfie. Marketers need to break from the rote implementation of stale “best practices” and reliance on digital experts, instead immersing themselves in the technology in order to invent and own innovative ways to win, serve, and retain customers.

Pritchard isn’t alone. Presentations from Target, American Eagle Outfitters, Ford, and Nationwide Insurance echoed many of these themes, demonstrating that others are moving toward this new marketing vision as well.

But Pritchard’s clarity and urgency deserve marketers’ attention. He articulated a path forward that is as inspiring as it is necessary to reconnect brands with consumers whose technology behaviors long ago left mass marketing in the dust.

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