As the world’s largest advertiser, any move by Procter & Gamble (P&G) is closely watched. So much attention has been paid to its recent announcement that it will cut $10 billion from its marketing budget over the next five years. In an interview last week with The Wall Street Journal, P&G’s Global Chief Marketing Officer Marc Pritchard elaborated on the company’s intent to lean more heavily on digital media at the expense of higher-ticket TV advertising as part of its cost-savings strategy. The Wall Street Journal interview is part of a PR push from P&G around its digital ambitions, highlighted in a Signal event in Cincinnati last week that focused on brand building in a digital world. The event brought in digital players and experts from Facebook and Google to Buddy Media and Flipboard as well as Forrester’s own eBusiness experts Sucharita Mulpuru and Andy Hoar. So why is P&G making this digital shift, and what does it mean?
The public event and announcements are, as the event name suggests, a signal — a welcome signal to Wall Street that P&G will be faster and more efficient (the company’s stock rose 3% with the budget-cutting news). It's a return shot across the bow to competitors such as Unilever and L’Oreal, which are both making high-profile advances in their digital ambitions, and a signal to P&G employees around the world that their leaders are serious about digital and that they need to accelerate change in the slow-moving P&G ship.