Marc Pritchard evaluates the next 10 years of the P&G brand

"I focus every day on being as useful as I possibly can," says Pritchard

In order to find the world's top marketer, The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) has once again partnered with The Drum for the Global Marketer of the Year award. Here we interview nominee Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer at P&G.

In 2010, Procter & Gamble embarked on what it called “brand-building 2020” – its marketing vision to create mass personalization at scale by the end of the decade. But it was slightly ahead of schedule.

“Looking back on that, it was very clear that was too early because the technology really wasn't there at that point,” says P&G chief brand officer Marc Pritchard. “But at least the vision was there, and it gave us a North star to where we're now at, which is reinventing brand-building from the mass marketing of the past to one-to-one brand building on a mass scale using data and digital technology.”

Pritchard has been on a mission to reinvent advertising at P&G, the world's biggest advertiser by spend. He’s brought back infomercials, partnered with streaming services such as Hulu on films and TV shows, and made a deal with Spotify on a podcast to draw attention to unconscious racial bias.

“We can see a world without ads as we know them today, to the point where people actually look forward to seeing ads.”

Pritchard himself is a cord-cutter. “Who isn’t?” he asks. “Every time I'm in a town hall or some kind of talk I ask everybody 'who watched one of the streaming services last night?' [and] the whole room goes up,” Pritchard says. “And then I ask 'who watched network TV?' And you get a handful. So that's why we have to look at this new world coming.”

P&G has even taken a liking to CES, as the next 10 years are about developing products that lead to “superior consumer experiences on an individual basis”.

“We like to think about it as the Consumer Experience Show, not the Consumer Electronics Show, because we view that our jobs are to take cutting edge technology and embed that technology into these everyday household and personal care products to provide a better experience,” says Pritchard.

P&G’s efforts in brand-building, innovation and social justice have earned Pritchard wide acclaim. The Drum has named him person of the decade. He was recently honored as the Advertising Club of New York’s industry legend.

Now Pritchard, along with five other marketers from brands such as Burger King and L’Oreal, has been nominated for the World Federation of Advertisers Global Marketer of the Year for 2019.

He takes all of his accolades in stride. “I take it with a grain of salt. You know, we're all just another bozo on the bus,” he jokes.

But Pritchard is the top bozo, something he takes to heart. There’s a credo among top P&G executives that they hold “weight bearing positions” in service of others.

“The way I like to look at things is I focus every day on being as useful as I possibly can to whomever I engage,” says Pritchard. “Our jobs are to serve others.”

For P&G, there’s an entire world of others to serve. From diapers to detergent and everything in between, Pritchard thinks P&G’s massive footprint can be used for good.

“Business will one day be the greatest force for good in the future. That's especially right with a company like P&G that touches more than five billion people on the planet every day,” he says.

The massive CPG company touches everywhere, from in-store to online, but it’s hard to do good when the brand values of P&G don’t match the business practices or content on the mass-reach duopoly of Google and Facebook.

Pritchard has had a loud voice calling for a more responsible media supply chain. He says he doesn’t want P&G ads to appear next to objectionable content, on sites that don’t moderate editorial comments that can “amplify divisiveness”, or on sites that aren’t transparent about fraud and data usage.

“The biggest portion of our digital media is in programmatic spending because we think we have a greater ability to be able to ensure that our ads are in places that meet [our] criteria,” he says.

As for brand-building 2030, Pritchard is focused on sustainability. The brand won't go totally plastic-free, but the goal is to eliminate plastic waste, Pritchard says.

He's also excited by virtual reality and augmented reality, especially as digital connectivity improves with the rollout of 5G.

P&G is in early test-mode with VR and AR, but Pritchard says we need to be “prescient” since there’s been “clearly a dark side” to the unbridled expansion of technology.

“If there's anything we learned in the last 10 years, it’s that technology is awesome and creates all these new opportunities, but technology can create some unintended consequences that we really need to think through and govern,” he says.

You can vote for Marc Pritchard, or the other finalists for the WFA Marketer of the Year Award, here.

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.