In the Company of P&G

NEW YORK — Jim Stengel has spent his first six months as global marketing officer of Procter & Gamble taking stock of the company’s roster shops.

P&G wants more than just ads from its agencies, he said in a wide-ranging interview with reporters from the Adweek Magazines group. “I expect them to be highly involved in our business strategies,” Stengel said. “They are not executional shops. They are strategic partners.”

During two “core summit meetings,” he asked each agency to suggest an idea that would “change our company.” He also solicited presentations about how the shops “built” non-P&G brands. (Grey, for example, talked about Olive Garden, Saatchi & Saatchi about Toyota, Leo Burnett about Disney, and Arnold McGrath about Nicorette.) Stengel would not share those company-changing ideas.

During the hourlong exchange, Stengel, 46, also discussed agency compensation, conflicts and ad strategies. And while the topics varied, a recurring theme was performance.

When asked about creative expectations for P&G’s agencies, Stengel said, “We’re a meritocracy when it comes to our agencies, and they know that. When we
see great work, we’ll reward it.” He added, “We changed our compensation system so that when we grow, they grow.”

Stengel, an 18-year P&G veteran, also expressed a desire to take risks, as embodied in an Always feminine-hygiene campaign from D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles that featured men in kilts. “We have to let our agencies fail,” he said. “If you don’t have a culture where you can fail, you’ll never reach [your goals].”

While acknowledging that “we have certain competitors that we don’t want [roster shops] to work with,” Stengel noted, “We want our agencies to be strong and profitable.” He added that conflict issues arise regularly. “There’s not a month, sometimes not a week that goes by where I’m not talking to one of the CEOs about a [conflict] scenario-usually because they come to me and say, ‘What do you think?'”