Thursday, February 28, 2002

P&G ad man looks for what's relevant

By Cliff Peale
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Jim Stengel works at Procter & Gamble Co., but he knows that P&G's way isn't the only way that works. In seven months as global marketing officer, Mr. Stengel has used marketers from Johnson & Johnson and Ford Motor Co. to help fine-tune Procter's marketing department.

        And among his models for creating the connection with consumers that P&G covets? Starbucks.

        “They've marketed the experience the consumer has there,” Mr. Stengel said.

        That might not seem like revolutionary stuff, but at P&G's Cincinnati headquarters, it's a new day when the company's marketing is measured by — and against — outsiders.

        In an interview last oweek, Mr. Stengel said he is concentrating on training and standards that will keep P&G one of the world's great marketers.

        With brands like Crest toothpaste, Pantene shampoo and Folgers coffee, there is plenty to build on, but Mr. Stengel said there is no end to the tinkering.

        He likes the advertisements created by Cover Girl (featuring entertainers like Faith Hill and Brandy), the Web site for Pampers (“full of warmth and vitality and energy”) and the marketing for Olay (""transformational”).

        “It's all about reaching her when or where she is receptive to our message,” he said of P&G's core female consumer. “It's about being relevant to her life.”

        It's rare when an individual ad gets to Mr. Stengel's desk. But he has pushed non-traditional marketing such as Internet connections and endorsements.

        The latest example of that came Sunday, when P&G got the jump on most marketers and signed Canadian figure skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier to endorse Crest Whitestrips.

        Mr. Stengel has focused mainly on internal process, such as:

        Technology: P&G is experimenting with wireless technologies in Japan, where those products are used by more of the population. P&G would send messages about new products or promotions directly to consumers.

        Consumer awarenes: The company's executives continue to explore real stores around the world. Mr. Stengel said his wife recently ran into P&G chief executive A.G. Lafley, chairman John Pepper and director Domenico de Sole at a local Target store.

        Training: Continuing a program started by predecessor Bob Wehling, Mr. Stengel has revived P&G's “Marketing University” for the 3,500 marketing workers.

        There is a week of training upon joining P&G, another week for new brand managers and marketing directors, and another week led personally by Mr. Stengel for senior marketing directors.

        Mr. Stengel and Mr. Lafley now do an annual check of the top 15 brands, and each P&G brand produces a “Brand Health Scorecard.”


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