P&G eases itself into a new era

Moving Dick Johnson – Procter & Gamble’s highly regarded UK marketing chief – to a new strategic public relations role marks more than a promotion.

Moving Dick Johnson – Procter & Gamble’s highly regarded UK marketing chief – to a new strategic public relations role marks more than a promotion. It is symbolic of far-reaching change in the company.

No one can have failed to notice the pivotal role that aggressive PR played in crippling Unilever’s Power product. Nor how unusual it was for P&G – a company renowned for its secretive culture and ruthless marketing professionalism – to ascend a platform of “public responsibility” and openly berate its principal rival. In this new no-holds-barred environment it makes perfect sense to get closer to your “target groups” – the Government and Press high among them. Who knows when P&G might not find itself in a corner, as it once did in the US with the Rely tampons affair?

Johnson’s promotion is, of course, only one of a constellation centring around the retirement of chief executive officer Ed Artzt. On the face of it, his replacement by John Pepper is surprising. Pepper was runner-up at Artzt’s own inauguration as ceo five years ago. He’s softer-edged and more consensus-driven than Artzt. Many had thought Durk Jager, an Artzt protééfashioned after his own aggressive, uncompromising image, was the obvious successor.

But things are not all they appear. Jager will be powerfully entrenched as chief operating officer. So will other Arzt placemen like Harald Einsmann, after a global restructuring which leaves “the rest of the world” in a much stronger position. This is epitomised by an unprecedented four non-Americans holding the top six executive portfolios.

Arzt has been at, or near, the heart of P&G’s radicalism over the past decade or so, including the early transition to category management , everyday low pricing, the ruthless excision of “dead” brands or personnel and a visionary insight into the role of new media. Profits soared during his reign, but inevitably there have been questions about the longer term consequences of his legacy.

Pepper’s conciliatory manner will smooth some of the internal tensions created by the break-neck change within P&G. But big strategic questions remain. Should P&G remain a player in food? Cosmetics and toiletries need a bit of a rethink, too. Never say it can never happen. That was the kind of complacency that characterised IBM, Kodak and General Motors before they took a tumble.

Procter & Gamble, page 9, 11

Procter & Gamble, page 9, 11

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email customerservices@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here