Procter & Gamble consolidates PR with five global agencies

P&G aims to build brand awareness with Citizen Relations, DeVries Global, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, MMK+, and MSLGroup.

CINCINNATI: Procter & Gamble has consolidated its PR work with five agencies: Citizen Relations, DeVries Global, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, MMK+, and MSLGroup.

P&G selected the agencies after conducting an extensive review of its brand PR firms around the world. The firms are tasked with providing global PR support to P&G brands at a category level in global business units including baby, feminine, family, fabric, home, skin, hair, grooming, oral, and personal healthcare, the company said on Monday.

P&G will continue to use a select group of independent local agencies where needed. 

"We are in the midst of transforming our capability when it comes to brand building, leveraging digital technology, but also continuing to just get better," Marc Pritchard, P&G’s global brand officer, told PRWeek. "The partners we choose to work with are very important in that brand-building journey."

Pritchard said there have been few changes to the company’s major PR agency relationships.

"Mostly small, independent, local agencies are the majority of whom we are ending relationships with," he said.  

The five firms will be tasked with influencing key opinion leaders, finding advocates who can speak on P&G’s behalf, and working with thought leaders and scientists who can credential the performance of the company’s businesses and brands.

"[The consolidation] has taken the game up and it will be using a lot more digital tech and be a lot better integrated with all of our brand-building efforts," Pritchard said. "So integration in terms of total brand building is a big part of this."

P&G made its selection based on the firms’ "proven demonstrated performance" in terms of reaching consumers with strong ideas and influential campaigns. All five firms were already on P&G’s roster.

"We are consolidating them so they get a greater piece of our overall business around and reach around the world," he said. "We are reaching more than 5 billion consumers around the world and looking for partners who have capability around the world. These teams have demonstrated that."

The transition will take place over the next three to six months. 

P&G said in August that it was slashing the number of agencies it works with globally in PR, advertising, and marketing by 40% to improve spending efficiency across the business.

Last April, P&G CFO Jon Moeller said on an earnings call that cutting back on its agency roster could result in cost savings of up to $500 million.

Amid a reduction in its global brand portfolio, P&G also told PRWeek in September it had expanded its global communications team from two directors to five.

As part of an in-house communications team restructuring, 18-year P&G veteran Damon Jones took on a new position as director of external communications on August 1 after serving as Asia communications director in Singapore since 2012.

Jones succeeded Paul Fox, who moved to the newly created role of M&A communications director. Jamie Endaya, previously associate comms director for P&G Asia, took Jones’ former role.

Greg Icenhower transitioned from corporate communications director to executive comms director; and corp comms team member Patrick Blair became associate director of internal communications. P&G also appointed communications director for India, the Middle East, and Africa, Antonio Boadas, as director of global operations.

Jones, Blair, and Boadas – along with Fox and Icenhower, report to Craig Buchholz, VP of company communications. Meanwhile, Buchholz and Kelly Vanasse, who oversees global brand communications, both report to global brand officer Marc Pritchard.

All five comms directors are based in P&G’s Cincinnati headquarters.

Another major change at the company occurred in July, when P&G agreed to sell 43 hair and beauty brands to Coty for $12.5 billion, a move Jones referred to in an interview at the time as the company’s "most significant business transformation." The brand cull was a part of P&G’s plan, announced in October 2014, to ax its 100 least profitable brands.  

P&G won multiple awards last year for its Always #LikeAGirl campaign, including the PRWeek Awards Campaign of the Year. The PR element of the Turning an Insult into a Confidence Movement activation was led by MSLGroup.

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