As Procter & Gamble’s Chief Brand Officer, Marc Pritchard is one of the most important decision-makers for the world’s largest advertiser. That being said, what would you guess is P&G’s top marketing priority for next year? An emerging technology like artificial intelligence or blockchain seem like plausible answers, or maybe it’s good, old-fashioned creativity.
None of the above. Nothing is more important to Pritchard than diversity and inclusion. In his opinion, that fuels everything else.
“When you have equality, that creates diversity,” he told LL Cool J during WHOSAY’s event at the recent ANA Masters of Marketing Conference. “When everybody is included, you get a lot more innovation and creativity.”
P&G’s Olay skin care brand launched “Face Anything” in September. The campaign focuses on women, in response to being judged as “too” something, remaining fearless to be who they are… and face anything.
Within the first few weeks, Face Anything generated 96 million impressions. Pritchard points out that Olay has a 50-50 split between male and female employees.
“It creates the ability to draw the best out of everybody and get different points of view. You can have representation without inclusion,” he said. “Just being there, you have to then behave in such a way where you’re drawing people out, you’re trying to get their ideas, you’re listening to their different points of view. That’s when you get a breakthrough.”
To avoid that, Pritchard believes marketers, creatives and agencies have to inspire conversations. But first, they have to make themselves vulnerable.
“That’s where you get insights that drive the conversations that create creative breakthroughs and business breakthroughs,” said Pritchard. “When you’re more open to other ideas, you incorporate learnings to drive the bottom line.”
Think back to January, when an H&M ad featured a black kid wearing a hoodie that read “Coolest monkey in the jungle.” That ad inspired global backlash and was likely created by a homogeneous team.
Of course, diversity for diversity’s sake can backfire. It comes off as inauthentic pandering and consumers see right through it.
Pritchard points out that while P&G brands like Olay, SK2 and Always have particularly diverse and intersectional workforces, but their messages ultimately align with the brand.
One theme of Olay’s Fearless campaign is aging, which dovetails with skin care products. Similarly, Always’ beloved “Like a Girl” campaign was about female confidence, something that makes sense for a women’s deodorant brand. Prior to that campaign, just 19% of consumers considered “like a girl” to be a positive sentiment; after viewing the video, 76% did.
Representing the world’s largest advertiser, Pritchard feels a responsibility to be socially conscious. Between all 51 of P&G’s brands, the company’s ads reach 5 billion consumers a day.
“We have an obligation to use our voice as a force for good. When we do that, we affect the psyche and perceptions,” he said. “Every image affects perception because it embeds memories, which form biases. Our advertising has to have an accurate and positive portrayal of people.”
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