Procter & Gamble's global chief brand officer, Mark Pritchard told a packed room of marketing and advertising leaders at the 44th IAA World Congress in Kochi that it was necessary to have a hard conversation on pressing issues.
Speaking about the Gillette commercial that generated a lot of heat, Pritchard said, "The Gillette campaign led to an overheated discussion and social media amplified the controversy. But a hard conversation is necessary to have. Despite the heat, we will continue to have it."
He said, Gillette took a bold step of what best men can be in today's world to be a role model for others and take positive action.
Speaking about the increasing discussion on masculinity, he highlighted even campaigns from India like #ShareTheLoad that are challenging the status quo with their messaging.
"Brands a force for good and a force for growth," said Pritchard.
He said that progress in changing attitudes is slow. "Some may say it's glacial. The gap is more pronounced, gender inequality, climate change, sustainable future."
He said that 1,000 brands with 50 billion of ad spends among themselves had joined the movement. He added that in areas like environment, the attention to action gap was wide.
He also said the future belonged to brands that will exploit the exponential power of data and technology and have conversations like sustainability and gender equality at the heart of their agenda. He goaded marketers and agencies across the spectrum to come on board and join the revolution. "What if all of them use brands as a force for good and a force for growth," he wondered aloud.
He said, this decision was driven by consumers expecting more from brands. "They make purchase decisions on brands that share their beliefs," he said.
He further said that brands which improved the quality of life of customers outperform others by as much as 120 per cent.
Speaking about gender stereotyping, he pointed out that 29 per cent of ads negatively portrayed women in ads. There has to be a concerted action to eliminate bias and stereotypes he said providing examples of P&G's brands like Always.
Technology and consumer goods
Digital is dominant. E-commerce is driven by algorithms. Cord cutters are bypassing ad networks. The pervasive data, analytics and technology dominate every aspect of everyday life. How do brands in the consumer goods space react?
Pritchard spoke about how brands are reinventing the consumer experience. He showed products like an AI enabled toothbrush to give you personalised dental care or a selfie induced skin care, where algorithms detected areas that are dry and pin-pointed action points for skin care.
He also highlighted some problem areas. Data misuse and privacy breaches have taken place. Industry cannot let it happen again. We should come together and set standards in using technology for good, he told the audience.
He also urged quick and continued action on how to handle consumer data, transparency on viewability, click fraud among others.
"My call to action is to ensure all policies are in place," he said and added that while companies must individually do their part, they should also collaborate collectively to have more impact.