P&G's chief brand officer Marc Pritchard lays out how the company is working directly with media companies to address gender and social inequality

  • P&G chief brand officer Marc Pritchard said the company is prioritizing underrepresented communities in its advertising while also spending more with minority-focused media companies.
  • He made the comments to Business Insider ahead of the Association of National Advertisers' Masters of Marketing Conference held virtually on Wednesday, laying out how P&G is trying to being a force for good by also being useful.
  • He also said P&G also has increased its spending on and non-traditional channels like programmatic media and over-the-top streaming video while cutting overhead, media, agency and production costs. 
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Procter & Gamble is using its clout as  the world's No. 1 advertiser to call out what it calls "antiquated" systems like TV media buying but also push for equal representation and work with minority-focused media in advertising. 

Speaking at the Association of National Advertisers' Masters of Marketing Conference, held virtually on Wednesday, P&G chief brand officer Marc Pritchard took on what he called "the myths" marketers default to when addressing representation and systemic inequalities in the creative and media supply chains.

"Being a force for good without growth is philanthropy — nothing wrong with philanthropy, but most of us are accountable to shareholders. On the other hand, being a force for growth without doing any good for society is increasingly viewed by consumers as mercenary," he said. "Doing good needs to also lead to driving growth… which in turn enables doing more good – creating a virtuous cycle that is sustainable."

P&G has prioritized social causes and minority owned media in its advertising 

Social justice themes and causes have become a mainstay of P&G advertising, which has recently included ads like "Choose Equal," "Estamos Unidos," and "Circumstances," which focused on communities hit hard in the pandemic, including women and the Hispanic and Black communities. 

Pritchard said the idea of these ads was to inspire people to take action on social issues. P&G established a fund called "Take on Race" to advance racial equality and equity and partnered with Keith Cartwright, Justine Armour, and John Patroulis to create "The Choice," which encouraged white Americans to be allies to minorities.

Some of these initiatives were also produced with minority-focused media companies. "Circumstances," for example, was produced by Cartwright and Grey for a BET benefit, Saving Ourselves. P&G also sponsored a CBS tribute to civil rights icon John Lewis, the BET Awards, and re-released its documentaries "The Talk" and "The Look" about bias and racism Black people face.

P&G, of course, is not alone. People's affinity for brands that share their beliefs and blocking overtly promotional ads  has led more brands to increasingly adopt purpose-driven marketing and other non-traditional forms of advertising. 

It's also seeking to boost representation in its ranks and the industry

Pritchard said that while P&G had achieved near parity in terms of gender, it still had work to do on racial and ethnic representation in its management, ad production, and agencies.

In that vein, he said P&G has increased its investment in Black, Hispanic, Asian-Pacific or Native American-owned businesses.

Debunking the so-called pipeline myth, he said P&G has gone outside its traditional networks to find new and diverse talent in different schools and through initiatives like its Queen Collective, which focuses on identifying multicultural women directors.

He also said P&G has also improved representation in its ad creative.

P&G is spending more on direct media and programmatic advertising at the expense of platforms and agencies 

Pritchard also discussed how P&G is shifting its marketing. It's among the CPG companies that have benefited from rising demand for their products during the pandemic, and increased marketing spending at least $100 million in the past quarter, its co-chairman and chief financial officer Jon Moeller said on an earnings call this week.

The company said it's increased its ad spending with publishers and broadcasters, diverse media owners and non-traditional channels like programmatic media and over-the-top streaming video while cutting back on overhead, media, agency and production costs. 

Programmatic is close to being P&G's largest digital media investment globally, with 90% of the company's digital spending in China being programmatic, Pritchard said. P&G handles much of this ad spending in-house.

"We're continuing to build partnerships that we think are leading to the constructive destruction of the media and advertising ecosystem," Pritchard said.

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