How a Global FMCG Company Found its Voice and Grew Sales

Despite being the second largest producer of consumer goods in the world, Proctor and Gamble struggled with its brand identity for years, and never had a defined corporate sense of purpose.

Not surprisingly, the behemoth holding company found that sense of purpose where it had always resided and where it mattered most – in the lives of the female consumers they’d been serving for 180 years.

P&G had a long, proud history of supporting women’s issues, but had never formalized its efforts as a purpose-driven business strategy, and they had certainly never projected that strategy as a purpose-driven marketing campaign.

But that all changed in 2010.

Proud Sponsor of Moms

Previously, the only consumer-facing mention of Proctor and Gamble was the company logo on its products. However, in 2010, P&G became a sponsor of the Vancouver Winter Olympics, and formally introduced itself to the world as the ‘Proud Sponsor of Moms.’

The coming-out party, according to P&G, resulted in a 30% increase in recall for all P&G ads, and an incremental $100 million in sales. It also cemented an Olympic sponsorship commitment through 2020, with subsequent ‘Thank You Mom’ campaigns that followed in London, Rio and Sochi.

P&G’s overarching positioning paved the way to instilling its purpose-driven strategy into the messaging behind its individual brands. And it started by taking a stand with Always, its feminine hygiene product brand.

Like A Girl

Always’ commitment to empowering young women dated back decades, with puberty education initiatives aimed at helping young girls transition into womanhood. Buta spate of new products had entered the market, focusing on emotional benefits instead of product features and attributes. As a result, consumer awareness of Always began to wane.

So, Proctor and Gamble decided to change the conversation.

Their ‘Like A Girl’ campaign took the once, derogatory phrase and turned it into a call to arms for all young women facing those awkward, unsure years of puberty.

Originally created by Leo Burnett Toronto, then later adopted by P&G USA for the Super Bowl, #LikeAGirl garnered 85 million YouTube views in 150 countries. Research showed that 76% of viewers had a positive association with the words ‘Like A Girl’ as opposed to just 19% prior to viewing. And the Always’ brand equity scores showed a double-digit increase during the campaign, while its competitors saw slight declines.

Bringing Their Efforts Home

P&G didn’t stop there, though. In addition to their consumer marketing campaigns, they brought their efforts in-house. They launched an internal campaign aimed at achieving gender equality in their workforce, across all management levels, by the year 2020.

To do that, they instigated stringent action plans to ensure systemic fairness in the recruitment, promotion and treatment of employees, regardless of their background or orientation.

As a result, the company is making significant strides. Eight hundred senior managers have completed the Intentionally Inclusive Leadership program. P&G is now the largest corporate sponsor of Lean In, with over 4,000 participants. And in its year-end 2017 employee survey, gender equality was the second highest-rated category, with an overall 89% favourability scoring.

Here’s the thing. Proctor and Gamble employs 95,000 people in 70 countries, and serves over 5 billion customers worldwide. By honing their purpose-driven strategy, and applying that purpose to all aspects of its business, the company has given itself, and its people, a defined direction.

And just as importantly, it’s given meaning to P&G’s consumer products.

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