Jim Stengel , Matt Carcieri and Renée Dunn
In the 1980s, Procter & Gamble (P&G) was the Amazon of its day. It was an innovative market leader with aggressive growth goals. John Smale was its CEO at the time, and while he had a very different profile from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the men share two common characteristics: a healthy disdain for the short-term perspective of Wall Street and a drive to expand their businesses and dominate their markets through better products and services.
Smale, like Bezos, also believed in hiring the absolute best people, training them like no other company, and giving them early responsibility and accountability.
But P&G in the 1980s, unlike Amazon today, strongly believed in standard processes and rituals. Every brand at P&G had an annual budget meeting using the same format. Each brand used a similar approach to packaging design, trade promotion, and advertising strategies. One mandate was that each brand would have a “copy strategy”—P&G believed that all great advertising began with great language, or copy. That strategy had to be one sentence long and focus on one benefit. It was always a functional benefit and usually a product superiority benefit. All communication about the brand had to emanate from this one sentence. It was sacrosanct and only changed as a result of deep and inarguable consumer research.
A few examples of what a P&G copy strategy looked like in the 1980s:
- Tide Plus Bleach ...