A Remarkable First: Two CMOs Sit Down for a Chat


What happens when a former CMO and a current CMO walk into a business school classroom?

This isn’t the start of a joke – but it is something that gave us pause. It’s not every day that two C-level executives sit down for a candid conversation, recorded for a national podcast and shared in person with a classroom of business school students.

Take a listen as former P&G Chief Marketing Officer, Jim Stengel, invites his successor, Marc Pritchard, on his podcast show to talk about purpose, what makes him “tingle” and how he knows a campaign will be a hit, and what it really means to lead marketing for the largest advertiser in the world. You’ll hear questions from the class – students in the room from the UC Lindner College of Business.

Marc assumed the role of CMO after Jim’s tenure about 10 years ago. Marc talks about what guides him towards the most poignant, and sometimes, most iconic brand campaigns, produced by P&G. He even chats about Activate, and our partnership with National Geographic and Global Citizen, and the broad reaching issues that we choose to address as core to individual brands. His passion for this work is palpable, celebrating his favourite memories, his favourite P&G product (it may surprise you), and what he considers the “special sauce” of P&G.

This is an authentic, insightful conversation you won’t want to miss.


Can’t listen to the full CMO Podcast with Marc Pritchard, now? Catch our favourite moments below.

Q: What is the P&G brand you use most?
A: SK-II, which is a high-end skincare product, and Olay Regenerist, which is why I have this youthful glow. (He laughs.) And another one called ‘See Me,’ a new line that was designed for 80’s women and I was an 80’s guy, and it’s a great product. A direct to consumer product.

Q: Your favourite P&G brand campaign of all time?
A: Two – Easy Breezy Beautiful Cover Girl (I ran the campaign for 10 years) and the P&G sponsor for Olympics, Proud sponsor of Mums.

Q: Best day ever at P&G?
A: After 37 years you have a lot of good ones. When we saw the first Proud sponsor of Mums campaign, we got the Olympic sponsorship 108 days prior to the start. So, we had very little time. W&K folks came to me and said, “Listen there’s a few things you need to know. Olympics is a world class event with world class athletes, and it requires world class marketing. You will be judged.” They came back with an idea, everyone else looks at the Olympics through the eyes of the athletes, we look at it through the eyes of Mums. To their mums, they will always be kids. I got tingles and tears, and I knew we had a winner. If you tingle, you know you’ve got something.

Q: You’re a glass half full kind of guy. What’s the worst day you’ve had at P&G?
A: The worst day was the day we lost Sharon Cunliffe– who was one of our partners of 30 years who worked for you (Jim Stengel), then worked for me. Sharon was a 30-year veteran who died of a heart attack at P&G. I say that because people are really what matters most… Losing a colleague was a tough day. Probably the worst day ever. Whatever company you choose to go with, go with the people.

Q: A lot of people would say you have the best job among 15 million marketing jobs in the world. Is it?
A: I think it is the best job. I can’t image a better job than this one. I get to work on 65 amazing brands… I’m privileged to be in a company that focuses on making the lives of our consumers better every day. And that has the values that we have – the values of integrity, and ownership, and teamwork, and leadership and trust and that is so foundational in how we operate.

I just came back from China three weeks ago, went to Latin America, and as I’m meeting with people in different parts of the world, engaging and consulting with them, it’s just amazing. And to not only work on “today” but “tomorrow”… I have to constantly be looking at the horizon and figure out “what’s coming.” All those things you have access to and that’s what makes this job so amazing.

A big part of my job is serving others. What do they need to be successful? I always say, don’t present to me, take advantage of my 37 years of experience. Put me to work.

Q: What’s your advice for others – for the longevity, the success, the energy, staying on top of your game, who want to emulate your results?
A: I was looking at Moore’s Law, that computing power doubles every month. I better be thinking about everything fresh in the next 18 months. I really focused on serving other people, making sure my job was about making other people successful and enable them to be ‘good.’… I am always focused on inventing tomorrow and thinking about what is coming next.

Q: You call it ‘brands as a force for good,’ How do you differentiate if everyone is trying to do the same?
A: Each brand and company have to focus on what makes it special and translate it into a force for good. You have to develop both. It’s far more successful when you can do both.

So, Always, who focuses on protection can uniquely focus on what it can do to end period poverty – up to 20% of young women in the United States skip school because they can’t afford adequate period protection. They’re going to end period poverty by donating pads, in 40 countries. That makes sense for Always to do that.

Q: What’s your advice to others (organisations) about what issue you should take a stand on – and how to get started?
A: When it came to thinking about gender equality, what occurred to me is we’re the world’s largest advertiser. Advertisements affect how people view the other and people, ad embeds memories into your mind, and your mind categorizes things to create bias. Everybody has bias. What occurred to us was that reaching 5 billion people on planet, we better make sure our advertising accurately portrays everybody… By having an accurate and realistic portrayal, (it) will help people start to see other people as OTHER PEOPLE, not some stereotype.

Q: How do you want to be remembered?
I wake up every day asking for the strength to be useful. When I get out of whack, it’s when I’m not thinking about others… Today I wanted to be useful to this audience. I hope that’s how people remember me.