Marc Pritchard is the Chief Brand Officer at Procter & Gamble
Marc Pritchard is responsible for P&G’s brand building disciplines worldwide. He sets the Company’s multi-billion-dollar media, marketing and advertising strategies, and leads innovations that guide brand building for P&G’s portfolio of trusted, quality brands.
As top brand builder and veteran of P&G for more than three decades, Marc believes in the power of brands to serve people with the best-performing products, while also being a force for good through ethics and responsibility, community impact, diversity and inclusion, gender equality and environmental sustainability. He continually leads P&G’s brand building reinvention and is a leading voice in the media, marketing and creative industry.
What brought you to Davos 2019?
It seemed like the right time to ask the question - what if brands could become good citizens of the world by becoming a force for good – individually and collectively? People want to know what brands believe in, the people behind them, their values, and points of view on important societal issues – like equality. Brands can impact areas of societal importance with their wide reach and voice.
Equality is limited by bias. The images and portrayals of people in advertising affect perceptions because they embed memories into minds that in turn, form bias. The reach of brands in advertising can address bias through accurate and realistic portrayals of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual and gender identity, ability, religion and age. Brands can also use their voice in advertising to take stands on gender equality issues – to promote conversations, influence attitudes, and change behavior.
And brands can come together through collaborative industry efforts to accelerate impact more broadly. We compete through innovation and creativity, but we are united behind a common objective to use our brands to make the world a better place.
Defining leadership moment at Davos:
We had just released the Gillette “We Believe” ad which expressed a view that being the best a man can be includes being a role model for positive behavior by taking action to stop bullying, harassment, and objectification. There was backlash because some people felt it was an attack on masculinity. So, we asked the question - with the heat the brand is getting, do we stand down and avoid controversy, or do we keep going to inspire conversation and action?
The heat we faced was a moment of truth. And we chose to keep going. Because the voice of brands like Gillette matter. Brands are arguably the most pervasive forces in the world for business growth – and they can also be used as a force for good. Not everyone will agree with a brand’s point of view and it may be subject to criticism. That’s ok. Because if intentions are good, brands have a responsibility to step up, take the heat, and keep going - and those good intentions will eventually prevail.
And although it was a hard conversation, it was important to have, to hear multiple views, and to constructively move forward.
Personal motivation to advocate for women and girls:
Over 20 years ago, I ran COVERGIRL, and attended a spiritual ranch in the Colorado mountains with my wife Betsy and our three daughters, who were all under the age of ten. At the end of the week, the spiritual leader of the ranch pulled me aside and said, “I hope you realize the difference you could make…because business will someday be the greatest force for good in the future. Your brands affect people every day. The work you do affects popular culture. If you choose to do so, you can do a lot of good.”
It was a moment of clarity. We had just developed the “Easy Breezy Beautiful COVERGIRL” advertising campaign, but the five new spokespeople in the campaign didn’t accurately portray women and conveyed a stereotypical standard of beauty. The realization that advertising affected perceptions on the standard of beauty struck me – especially when looking at our young daughters. We changed immediately – partnering with powerful women starting with Queen Latifah for a more accurate and positive portrayal of women.
That personal conviction has grown stronger through today, where I’m privileged to work at P&G, the world’s largest advertiser, to use our voice as a force for good.
Where can people learn more about you and your key projects?
To learn more about key projects and how you can get involved, you can contact the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and “The Female Quotient”. I also suggest joining the ANA #SeeHer movement to promote the accurate portrayal of women in advertising; the ANA Alliance for Inclusive & Multicultural Marketing’s #SeeAll movement, to promote the accurate portrayal of race, ethnicity and people of all cultures; and Free the Bid/Free the Work which focuses on getting women and underrepresented people of color behind the camera.
Brands touch nearly every person on the planet every day. Its time brands step up individually and collectively to accelerate change as a powerful force for good…and for growth.