P&G rules out having relationships with just holding companies

Owner of Fairy and Old Spice will continue to have relationships directly with agencies.

PG One recently repositioned P&G-owned Daz
PG One recently repositioned P&G-owned Daz

Procter & Gamble will not follow in the footsteps of Unilever and stop working with individual agencies in favour of only partnering with holding companies.

In June Unilever chief executive Alan Jope said it was two-thirds of the way through shifting its brand relationships to the holding company level rather than the individual sub-brands. The new arrangements will be company-wide.

The move by the Anglo-Dutch FMCG giant sparked speculation on whether other major companies would follow suit.

But the new model does not tempt P&G, which described its own approach as "having flexibility in [its] models beyond holding companies". Procter & Gamble owns brands including Head & Shoulders, Always and Pampers.

In a statement, a spokeswoman said: "We will continue having relationships with individual agencies, their holding groups and then a broad spectrum of other partners in order to fulfil our desire to raise creative standards."

The spokeswoman said P&G chief brand officer Marc Pritchard has "talked publicly about our approach to a fixed flow model". The set-up "takes agency (and holding groups) flexibility to an even more agile model by recognising that there are many more sources of creativity available today", such as via entertainment and film, she said.

"Simply put, P&G is looking for the best creative partners," the spokeswoman added.

In the UK an interdisciplinary Publicis Groupe team, PG One, handles some of P&G’s creative alongside all of its media. Other agencies including WPP’s Grey London also work on creative accounts.

A spokesman for Kraft Heinz declined to clarify its position on holding company-wide arrangements.

Back in June, speaking to Campaign at Cannes Lions, Jope said the FMCG giant was not looking to increase or decrease the number of agencies on its roster, but instead, it was structuring its relationships with holding companies.

He continued: "I know that WPP have got all the talent that we need to solve our brand problems, and so do Omnicom, so do Interpublic. What I don’t want to do is just have a relationship with one narrow vertical just within WPP."

Unilever's move was described by some agencies as risking a focus on efficiency over effectiveness.  

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