Michael Lee: P&G thinks we need brand directors – why don’t we have ‘brand creative directors?’

The decision by Procter & Gamble to re-title their marketing department hit the newsstands last week. It wasn’t the biggest story of the week, but it raises an interesting point.

Here’s what they announced: As of last week, P&G’s marketing directors and associate marketing directors become brand directors and associate brand directors.

The new role houses four functions: brand management, consumer and marketing knowledge, communications and design — thus creating a “single-point responsibility for the strategies, plans and results for the brands…simplifying our structure to free up time for creativity and better execution,” a P&G spokeswoman said.

Seems sensible enough. Who can argue with freeing up time for creativity and better execution?

But does it go far enough? Is it enough to drop the word “marketing” and insert the word “brand?” Should it have gone further, been an inspiration to the entire marketing industry?

I believe it’s time to give the people who are responsible for all aspects of a brand’s life and health a new title, one that promotes a more creative approach to developing a brand: brand creative directors.
Producer Evans In Conference
Wouldn’t that be aspirational? Something new for everyone to live up to?

The job a marketer fulfills is no longer for number-crunching MBAs. The job is heading to be more of an editorial director. A network producer.

It’s no longer about “managing” anything. It’s now more about creating, creating value for a brand, creating products people love, creating content people want to share, creating dialogue with your audience you need today and the audience you need to attract in the future.

The growth of content and social practices is going to lead to brands creating a phenomenal amount of content. Marketers will need to operate, think and produce more like magazine editorial directors or Hollywood producers: commissioning, overseeing, editing, producing….creating.

The job will be more about asking the big questions: what does the brand love? What does it want more of in the world? What is it contributing? What does it hold in common with its audience?

How would people respond to the responsibility that they are now creative directors? I think it would change their entire approach. I’m sure it would have a few of them reaching for new stars.

A few years back, when I was executive creative director of EURO RSCG (now Havas) we changed the title of the agency’s media director to executive creative director of media to demonstrate how important media was in developing new creative work. It changed the way media was thought about in the entire agency (and with our clients).

Just by adding in “creative director” to a title, media was no longer an afterthought with a 45-page PowerPoint deck assigned to the latter stages of a presentation. It was now a fully integrated tool, aligning perfectly with creativity.

It worked.

So can a similar move happen within the brands themselves? I’d like to think so.

Here’s to the end of the brand manager. Welcome the brand creative director.

A great job, but a tricky one. Some people are going to be brilliant at it, some pretty good, others will fail.

But I think that companies that develop brands this way will be in a stronger space to compete in the marketplace we find ourselves in today, as well as the one lurking just around the corner.

This post first appeared in Forbes.

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