It was Shakespeare who posed the question, “What’s in a name?” before handily going on to supply the answer, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
Maybe the bosses at Procter & Gamble have been brushing up on their bard as they recently moved to ditch the title of marketing director. From now on, all marketing directors across its global network are to be known as brand directors or associate brand directors.
P&G has history here. The title of marketing director actually only came into being with the household brands giant in 1993. Previously the role was covered by that of “advertising manager”.
The rationale behind the latest name change is that it is part of a global effort to simplify the P&G marketing structure and enable faster decision making. Agility is the latest must-have in marketing services as we all know. In scrapping the title of marketing director and converting them to brand directors, P&G says it will ensure the department has “single point responsibility for brands”.
Indeed, in February this year it announced that the marketing department would be renamed as brand management. Apparently this was done to improve P&G’s ability to deliver marketing efficiency and effectiveness by integrating four disciplines – brand management, consumer & market Knowledge, communications, and design – into one department.
According to a spokesperson for P&G: “These changes will help us unify brand-building resources to focus on delivering better brand and business results.”
The changes mean that P&G’s lauded corporate marketing director, now becomes brand director for Northern Europe.
There can be a bit of a trend for fatuous job title inflation in some sectors, and a bit of grounding never did anybody any harm, but does the title of brand director truly reflect the broad commercial responsibilities the former marketing director holds?
This isn’t just an argument about titles, but about roles and influence within the organisation. At a time when there are fewer and fewer marketing directors or chief marketing officers sitting on executive boards, the move to demote marketing directors – and that is what this feels like – will have a wide impact on the standing of the discipline.
Coming as it does from one of the undisputed colleges of marketing, the move will have an even greater impact. P&G is widely heralded as turning out some of the best FMCG marketers in the industry. So when they act, others generally follow.
In some ways the sentiment of single point responsibility for the commercial performance of “a brand” in FMCG makes sense. As the tools and channels at marketers’ command become ever more complex, and the array of agencies and suppliers used, ever more numerous, there has to be a strong hand on the tiller.
But to those outside of the marketing/brand fraternity it could be seen as a reductionist move. Does this imply that the focus of marketing is limited to advertising, POS and conceptual brand strategy? Coming at a time when marketing as a discipline is anxious to be seen as helping businesses listen to their consumers and therefore direct overall business strategy, this sounds dangerously like putting marketers back in their box.
In this light, P&G’s highly publicised change is somewhat more questionable, short sighted and potentially damaging to the credibility and reputation of marketing directors and CMOs.
Marketing, in a dynamic business, isn’t just about the comms. It requires a much broader understanding of the first principles, practices and science – and a broader commercial sense. Marketers need to be able to understand profit and loss, financial ratios, how to read financial sheets and the bottom line. Failure to use all of these assets is like having a Ferrari but never taking it out of third gear.
There has been a lot of discussion about the future of marketing. The role of the CMO has changed as a result of technology and IT becoming so important – are we seeing the merging of the CMO and CIO title, or can they work together?
Mondelez International recently scrapped its CMO role for a chief growth officer responsible for global marketing, corporate strategy, global categories, global sales and research, development and quality. Tesco has abolished the chief marketing officer role and instead have a chief creative officer and chief customer officer.
Is the role of marketing being enhanced or diminished here? Time will tell. What should be obvious is that marketing is a management discipline that is strategic and commercially accountable. It’s not just about branding and advertising.