P&G Puts Emphasis on Brand as Former CEO Heads to Washington

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One of the most influential marketers in the world, Procter & Gamble, executed a big shift in its organization this week. On July 1st, its entire marketing function relaunched as “Brand Management” in a sweeping reorganization that gives a broader purview for brand-centric marketing and thinking.

The move comes as P&G’s former CEO, Bob McDonald, is in the news after President Obama nominated to him to take over and make over the troubled Veterans Administration.

With P&G now led (again) by A.G. Lafley, the company’s brand-led restructuring, announced by the company in February, is aimed at creating “single-point responsibility for the strategies, plans and results for (each) brand,” a spokesperson told Ad Age.

The shift away from “marketing” towards “brand” changes titles and locks down broader responsibilities for hundreds of marketing directors and associate marketing directors at the world’s biggest advertising spender, now officially brand directors and associate brand directors. Eliminating “marketing” from titles doesn’t mean marketing is a thing of the past, however.[more]

In the new P&G paradigm, “Brand Management” under Global Marketing Officer Marc Pritchard now encompasses four functions: brand management, formerly known as marketing; consumer and marketing knowledge, also known as market research; communications, including what used to be called external relations; and design. And P&G’s Brand Management organization will now be housed entirely within its global business units rather than parts residing in reconfigured regional units.

Will all of this fruit-salad upset mean that Lafley finally should be able to rekindle the fires under P&G’s still-sluggish growth in revenues and market share in a CPG industry that is still very much struggling with the aftermath of the Great Recession and today’s “new normal” of more constrained consumer spending? Too soon to tell.

But at least the last person who tried to confront P&G’s recent stagnation, McDonald, has a new gig reviving the VA brand, culture and organization. Obama is counting on the highly experienced ex-CEO to bring the strong hand of reform to a Veterans Administration that has been letting down the president, the American people—and the veterans it is supposed to serve. 

McDonald failed to right P&G during his short tenure as CEO, nudged out last year by the return of Lafley, but surely he’s got plenty to offer an administration that can count on one hand the number of experienced business leaders that are helping it run the country.

As Interbrand New York and San Francisco CEO Josh Feldmeth commented to CNBC this week, “I think there is a big opportunity for McDonald to bring his experience as a brand builder, to shape the culture of the VA and articulate a new north star for the organization.”

And there’s a huge opportunity for Lafley and Pritchard to right the ship at P&G.

• Connect with Dale on Twitter: @daledbuss

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