P&G Reviews In-Store Health, Beauty Efforts

NEW YORK Get ’em where they shop seems to be the mantra at Procter & Gamble these days. To make the most of its efforts to reach customers at the point of purchase, the world’s largest advertiser is evaluating all in-store efforts for its healthcare and beauty brands.

Trying to increase its return on what one source estimated to be a $1.6 billion annual investment in retail marketing, P&G is talking to agency teams that specialize in retail marketing with the intent of consolidating the below, the-line business, now handled by many different shops-among one or two teams.

The main goal, however, is not consolidation but rather “increasing ROI and profitability,” one source said.

After looking at dozens of retail-marketing specialists, P&G has narrowed its sights on a handful of finalists-one source said five, another said four. Competing are a Grey Global Group team that includes Alliance, G2 and J. Brown, according to sources. Another team is led by Interpublic Group’s Draft, sources said. Also pitching is Publicis Groupe’s Frankel.

A fourth contender is ThompsonMurray, a Fayetteville, Ark.-based in-store specialist that was acquired by Saatchi & Saatchi last week. (ThompsonMurray will become the centerpiece of Saatchi’s retail practice under the moniker Saatchi & Saatchi X, with ThompsonMurray’s Andy Murray retaining his CEO title and Saatchi worldwide CEO Kevin Roberts serving as chairman.)

For the winning contender or contenders, the financial reward will likely be substantial. One source estimated that the total fee for the business is in the tens of millions of dollars, possibly as much as $60 million. It is unclear whether P&G will appoint a single team for both healthcare and beauty or two different teams.

The account includes package design, point-of-purchase, collateral and any other means of in-store communication-what P&G terms its “first moment of truth” with the consumer.

The business is the largest slice of P&G’s retail-marketing pie, sources said. Determining spend is difficult given the variables involved, which include the mutable costs of marketing deals with retailers, distributors, other marketers and the celebrities involved in brand promotions.

Sources said the contest is seen as a test case that could be applied to brands in other P&G categories, such as house and home (which includes Tide and Mr. Clean), baby and family (Pampers and Charmin), and pet nutrition and care (Iams, Eukanuba).

The review will not affect advertising assignments, sources said.

The review is evidence of the increasing importance P&G is placing on face-to-face interaction with its audience. CEO A.G. Lafley and global marketing officer Jim Stengel have been outspoken in the past year about the importance of design, a key component of the retail experience, be it in product packaging or store displays.

Stengel, along with purchasing group manager Donna Bruce, are among the key decision makers in the review. They presided over the credentials presentations, which concluded late last month at headquarters in Cincinnati, one executive noted.

The finalists, which emerged from a group of more than 20 agencies, will be briefed on assignments involving beauty and healthcare brands, according to sources. While the brands in question may change, P&G was said to be considering Clairol or Pantene from its personal and beauty products portfolio and Vicks from its health and wellness line.

Briefings are scheduled for this week. A source described the next phase as a trial run in which the agency teams will work with P&G executives to develop retail-marketing campaigns that will likely appear in stores down the road.

Sources said a decision is expected in late July or August.

P&G executives were not available for comment, and the agencies either declined comment, referred calls to P&G or could not be reached.