Every brand has its ‘Hall of shame’. Mark Pritchard, Procter & Gamble’s chief brand officer, ceded that so did P&G, showcasing work that one would perhaps not get to see at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2016.
“Advertising is a noble, beautiful craft, and we need to treat it as such,” said Pritchard, taking stage on 23 June to deliver his talk on ‘Raising the creative bar’. He contended that too often, brands choose to produce ‘crap’ instead of focusing on the craft.
Technology and digital platforms have had a role to play in the churning out of bad work, he argued, in the quest to create dynamic, real-time content.
“The world was getting louder, and we were adding to the noise,” said the speaker.
Quipping that advertising’s terrible reputation perhaps led to the usage of the term ‘content’ instead, he added, “Much of what we express as content belongs in a content crap trap box that should never be opened.”
One of the examples he used to make the point was a film of over 4 minutes for Pepto Bismol, titled 'Boy raised by goats'.
“Experimenting is fine. We all do it. We took a look at ourselves and asked, ‘Why should we get trapped in this content crap trap?’” stated the man at the helm of brands at the world’s largest advertiser, before outlining P&G’s framework to raise the creative bar.
“We decided to step up our game. We made the choice to raise the bar on creativity, because our customers deserve it,” he added.
The brand as a masterpiece
The speaker advocated a three-pronged approach: presenting the brand as a masterpiece on a creative canvas, elevating the craft with due respect to the craftspersons, and embracing creativity ‘as the uniquely human endeavour that it is’.
Every brand had a central idea that would form the core of the masterpiece, explained Pritchard, while manifesting in different ways around it, thereafter exploring the edges. He cited examples of work from P&G including two unreleased campaigns that were premiered on the Cannes Lions stage – one for Gillette Body and another for Old Spice, #SmellThemWhosBoss.
Pantene - Dad-do
Advertising across the category had gone ‘stale’ before Pantene decided to up the game. Holding on to the central brand idea of ‘Strong is beautiful’, the brand’s campaign also ended up becoming part of the national conversation, explained the marketer.
Dad’s Share The Load
Pritchard explained the strategy behind this campaign from the Indian market. As a market leader, Ariel dared to take a stand on a social issue, noted the marketer. The issue to be tackled was the belief that laundry was women’s work. Ninety per cent men and 75 per cent women were found to have this belief, leading to 75 per cent of children growing up with the same perception. The campaign has made Ariel the fastest growing brand in India for P&G, he added.
Secret ‘Stress Test’
Deodorant brand Secret sought to redefine women’s strength for today’s generation with this ‘Stress Test’.
SK-II ‘Leftover Women’
The brand which targets an audience of young professional women sought to help them speak up. The idea was to counter social and familial stigma haunting women who stay unmarried post their mid-20s in China. The campaign themed #ChangeDestiny invited women to craft human stories. The film has had over 50 million views, according to the head of brands at P&G.
After 200 million views, the conversation is changing around the use of the phrase ‘Like A Girl’, noted Pritchard. Seventy six percent of people now view it as a positive expression, claimed the speaker, against 19 per cent before the campaign was launched.
The brand went further to invite suggestions from women on emoticons they wanted to have with female characters, since most featured males. When there were emoticons with girls, it was stereotypical. Pritchard revealed that thousands of suggestions had been received. Partners Google and Facebook have now taken up the task of launching the new set of emoticons with girl characters.
The speaker also showcased the corporate brand’s ‘Proud Sponsor of Moms’ work around the Olympic Games.
Pritchard surmised that marketers have the choice to make between creating crap and crafting quality content.
He signed off saying, “Creativity does matter. More than it ever has. And we will raise the bar.”