NEW YORK Jim Stengel’s successor at Procter & Gamble is a 26-year veteran to the company known for reinvigorating the Cover Girl brand, saving millions by retooling P&G’s supply chain and for being exceptionally people-oriented and smart, colleagues say.
Marc Pritchard, 48, will take over as global marketing officer for the company next month. On Tuesday, Stengel, who has held the post since 2001, said he was planning to exit on Oct. 31.
Since that announcement, the spotlight has switched to Pritchard, who up until now was best known for rebranding Cover Girl, a brand P&G bought from Noxell in 1989 with a campaign sporting the tagline “Easy, breezy, beautiful.”
Phil Sheehey, global supply chain director for P&G’s global color cosmetics unit, who worked closely with Pritchard on that project, said one of Pritchard’s key insights was that Cover Girl — which appeared to be doing relatively well — actually needed a rebranding.
“Not long after Marc came into the cosmetics business in the late ’90s, he identified the fact that while Cover Girl had a terrific brand equity, it was time to restage it,” Sheehey said. Cover Girl took off in the late-70s, partly due to an advertising contract with Christie Brinkley, but even so, “every business needs to retool, restage and refresh over time,” Sheehey said.
Pritchard, who could not be reached for comment, started in P&G’s finance department after graduating from Indiana University in 1982. He has served in various roles, including advertising, marketing and information technology.
But Pritchard’s successes weren’t all on the marketing front. In 2000, while still vp, gm of P&G cosmetics and fragrances, Pritchard spearheaded a prototype effort that later became known as the consumer-driven supply network. The initiative, which is still in place today, involved identifying and eliminating unnecessary steps and procedures in P&G’s supply chain.
Such strategies, such as creating what Sheehey called “better, cheaper and faster manufacturing” and increasing the frequency of deliveries to customers, has yielded a 70 percent cost savings for P&G to date, Sheehey said.
“The idea, quite frankly, was that the consumer could care less about the value of a long, expensive supply chain,” he said. The infrastructure is “now a critical pillar of the company.”
Such experience outside the marketing realm will serve Pritchard well in his new post, said Bob Wehling, Stengel’s predecessor, who is now retired. That’s because the job involves a delicate balance between setting the overall marketing agenda and actually implementing it.
“You don’t have the authority to do that in this job” Wehling said of the latter. “You don’t tell a brand like Crest or Tide what to do. [But] you have the [power] to persuade them on the right things to do. To some degree, you’re a teacher. To some degree, you’re a cheerleader. It’s a many-faceted job. And then, of course, you always try to focus on what the top priorities of the company are at any given point.”
According to Liz Edelstein, a close friend of the family, Pritchard has always been efficient at managing both corporate priorities and staff.
Edelstein has known Pritchard for more than 20 years, dating back to when her husband, Dan, worked at P&G’s paper products plant in Mehoopany, Pa. She recalled when her husband, a P&G beauty care product supply director, was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2002. Pritchard would pay his longtime mentor frequent visits, despite living somewhat far away and raising a family himself.
“He would come over and make the effort to sit and talk with Dan and talk about years gone by and he’s just been such a dear friend,” she said.
Wehling added: “Marc’s a wonderful guy. Very creative. Very people-oriented. Very smart. Jim [Stengel] did a tremendous job in leading the company from the age of traditional marketing into the age of digital marketing and trying to straddle both fields.”
Pritchard with his creativity, smartness and people-oriented personality, is poised to continue that, said Wehling.