We’ve come a long way since the shop front advertising P&G displayed 177 years ago, stated Marc Pritchard, global brand building officer, Procter & Gamble as he commenced his talk on day five of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. That was after he showcased some of the best work for P&G – from the whacky Old Spice man commercials
to the moving stuff on Duracell, that urges viewers to ‘Trust the power within’.
“Some of them are beautiful, some ridiculous, some sublime. What could they have in common? What makes a brilliant campaign?” he pondered. Adding that the art of advertising can now be expressed with such a broad creative canvas, he asked, “What platforms lend themselves to express this creativity? How do you know if you’ve nailed it? How do you even know if you’re breaking through? These are all questions we’re all grappling with. We’re all in this together.”
The golden ages of advertising
From the shopfront age to the newspaper age, to the radio age when the human voice reached homes, Pritchard traced the sequence of the different ‘golden ages’ of advertising. Then came television.
“Television changed everything. It created a vast creative canvas, unleashing creativity like nothing ever before. Brands perfected the TV ad. They were relevant, talk-able and shareable long before those buzzwords arrived. We spent our time mastering the most dominant media,” said the P&G executive.
That golden age too didn’t last – circa 1995, when the number of channels moved from three to 50 to 150, followed by video, DVRs and on-demand, the ‘last golden age’ of advertising ended, he pointed out.
“The age of undivided attention was over. With the world wide web came millions of sites, blogs. How are we ever going to master these new platforms? There is never going to be another point in time when one platform matures and grows to the extent that it bumps every other platform off. We are on the precipice of the ‘new golden age of advertising’. We now have the ability to enter peoples’ lives. We can target the right people at the right time with the right message, with brilliant creative, again and again and again. And the best ideas flourish across multiple platforms,” he observed.
He underlined that there are not enough ad dollars to pay one’s way to consumers. The route that works, is one laced with ideas that are so brilliant that they can earn their way into consumers’ hearts, noted Pritchard.
The three principles
The brands head presented three ‘principles’ that could guide marketing in its current epoch. These were:
- Start with something true (true human insight)
- Why should consumers care
- Make your brand matter
The difference between campaigns of the past and the future, is how brands can tap into relevant conversations, giving consumers a reason to care, he explained. What followed was a set of cases to elucidate these points.
“It started with something true – women do feel a conflict when it comes to feeling strong and confident. This was never intended to be a global campaign. It started in the Philippines and went on to get some 58 million views on YouTube from all over,” explained Pritchard.
On people questioning how such a campaign could sell shampoo, the presenter explained, “Pantene becomes an authentic part of the conversation. The job of this work was to start the conversation - to earn the right to move them. They heard the message when they were most ready to hear it. You know you’re breaking through when they see a lot more than shampoo when they see a bottle of Pantene,” he added.
Among other examples the P&G executive presented were those for Cover Girl (#GirlsCan), Old Spice, and of course, P&G’s ‘Thank You Mom’ for the 2012 Olympic Games and the Sochi Winter Olympics.
“These established a powerful, inescapable connection between P&G and the role of a mother. This is the kind of brilliant creative that fuels my belief that we are at the cusp of the next golden age of creativity. We’ll create ideas that are adopted by people who will carry them forward in conversation, and in imagination,” he said.
Pritchard surmised with a message to agencies: “Challenge yourself. Challenge us. We will get there together.”