Procter & Gamble chief marketing officer Marc Pritchard has praised his ad agencies for "raising their game" in the face of increased competition for marketing work from non-traditional creative agencies.
Pritchard spoke at Cannes Lions Wednesday alongside broadcaster Katie Couric and singer/songwriter John Legend, both of whose work with P&G was hailed as proof of a "new level of creativity".
Last year, the world’s biggest advertiser put into place a radical shake-up of the way it commissions its agencies of record. The "fixed and flow" model limits its existing agency groups, such as Publicis Groupe, WPP and Wieden+Kennedy, to fixed annual retainers.
In response to a question from Campaign following the talk, Pritchard explained that "everybody has raised their game", a year into the new structure.
"We’re looking to work with any shop, including our big agencies, and we’re also looking for other partners as well," Pritchard said. "That’s one of the reasons we have those creative partnerships. Suffice it to say our objective is to reimagine creativity, and we’re really opening up the ability to partner with whomever you possibly can from a creativity standpoint as long as it shares your values, shares the right type of partnership and gets the right level of creativity."
Later on in the discussion, Pritchard singled out individual incumbent agencies, insisting that "fixed and flow" was about augmenting creative output, rather than replacing.
"It’s an 'and'," he said. "We’re not doing an 'or'… Publicis [Groupe] is doing some magnificent work. They have done work on Arial, they’ve done work on Always, they’ve done work on Vicks, just great work. Grey and WPP have done magnificent work. They did Gillette's 'We bleed’ and ‘First shave’, they did Venus ‘My skin my way’, they did Pantene's ‘Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful’."
He added: "We need to think of this not as a zero-sum game. We need to think of this as lifting all boats and expanding the horizon around creativity. That will expand growth, and that is good for everyone."
During a panel on how creativity can be "reimagined", Pritchard repeated several times how P&G’s marketing can be a force for both growth and good, in highlighting recent socially conscious campaigns such as "The look" and "The talk".
Three years ago Pritchard began talking about how he is mixed race by heritage and that his Mexican-born father was called Pritchard after being adopted by white Americans.
Revealing that his parents originally wanted to name him Mitch, Pritchard said he did not believe that he would be chief marketing officer of P&G today if he was called Mitch Gonzalez (his biological grandfather’s surname).
"It’s not lost to me that my privilege is unearned," he said. "I’m presented as white. I suppressed my Mexican heritage until three years ago, but I realised I wasn’t bringing my whole self to work because of that… By discussing it, it provided an emotional safety for people to have conversations."