Procter & Gamble’s Marc Pritchard On the Gillette Ad Backlash

Jonathan Knowles recent article in The Marketing JournalDo Not Risk Your Brand To Build Your Reputation: A Lesson Learned From Gillette – is a cautionary tale for brands interested in Brand Activism.

Now we learn that the overwhelming reaction, even backlash, came as no surprise to Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer at Procter & Gamble. His point: “I hope people do is take the time to look at the whole ad. If a brand’s intentions are focused on doing what’s right, they have a responsibility to stand up, take the heat and keep going. We’ll keep working and good intentions will prevail.”

Adds Pritchard, “Take the Edelman Trust Barometer; eight out of 10 consumers say they prefer brands that take a stand.”

Consumers expect brands to be a force for good. The message Pritchard gave at Davos:  “Companies are realizing that they can have an impact on improving the environment, and improving their quality and growing at the same time. In fact, the two go hand-in-hand.”

And:  “Ten years ago, P&G went down a purpose path, but it was too disconnected from the business.  What we’ve done recently, which is more effective in our view, is we’ve built what we call ‘citizenship’ into how we do business.  We’ve been very deliberate about making sure whatever we do is both a force for good and a force for growth.”  

Pritchard believes “what’s good for society can be good for business, but purpose needs to be connected to business results.

Just as a focus on better quality leads to better business results, we’ve learned that gender-equal advertising performs better in driving sales and profits.  For example, brands adopting the #SeeHer commitment to accurately and positively portray women in their advertising messages perform +10% higher in trust and up to +26% higher in sales growth.  Being a force for good is a force for business growth when it makes sense to consumers and to our partners.”

In the future, he “hopes to see a broader range of intersectional diversity.  We want to include all groups.  The world today is attuned to gender, race, LGBTQ, culture, economic and religious diversity and inclusion.  What’s next is pushing on broadening the definitions, thinking in an intersectional way and holding ourselves accountable.”

Brand Activism is here to stay.