John Legend headlines P&G’s drive to “re-imagine creativity”

P&G is making waves at this year’s Cannes Lions, with chief brand officer Marc Pritchard in the driving seat again, calling on the ad industry to “lead disruption by joining forces with other creative worlds.”

In so doing it has announced a number of new partnerships including one with singer-songwriter John Legend. Another is with Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global intended to embed her “micro-step habit stacking” into P&G brands, whatever that means.

Pritchard says: “For too long, the ad world has been in its own world – separate from other creative industries and becoming less relevant to consumers. It’s time to reimagine creativity to reinvent advertising. There are vast sources of creativity available, and today P&G is taking action to merge the ad world with other creative worlds though partnerships that embrace humanity and broaden our view of what advertising could be.”

Legend (below with Pritchard and Katie Couric) says: “Companies have a lot of power. They have, of course, the budgets and the reach so they can put out messages that a lot of people will see and hear and they can decide to use that power for good or not.

Philippe Farjon/AP Images for Procter & Gamble)

“It’s so interesting for companies to make statements about what their values are, what they care about and what kind of world they want to see, and then spend the money and use their influence to try to make that happen. Using that power to create a better world, a fair world, a more just world. I like aligning with brands who do that.”

On implicit bias in the world and P&G’s forthcoming ad ‘The Look’ he says: “What all of us need to acknowledge is that sometimes implicit bias is there but we can help people by addressing this and being aware that this is how people are feeling. It’s fine to have a conversation without feeling like you’re being attacked.”

Some might see this is another client invasion of ad agency territory – signing up celebs was traditionally the job of the senior agency suit, Sir Frank Lowe of Lowe Group being a celebrated practitioner. Pritchard is now, in effect, CEO of P&G’s burgeoning in-house ad agency as well as chief brand officer.

Time will tell if this is a revolution in bringing creativity back into the centre of business or a new version of corporate ‘dad dancing.’

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About Stephen Foster

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Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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