Cannes Lions Live: Being a force for good is about actions, not headlines: Marc Pritchard

The Chief Brand Officer of P&G shares how the company rose up as a force for good during the COVID pandemic, protecting employees, serving consumers and supporting communities

e4m by Neeta Nair
Updated: Jun 25, 2020 8:51 AM

In the past three months the role of business in society has forever been disrupted. It has become clear that brands have a responsibility to reinvent themselves from those who are all about themselves to brands and companies who step up as a force for growth and a force for good. And that was the theme of the keynote session by Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer, P&G on Lions Live on Day 3.
Pritchard reminisced, “My journey started 20 years ago when a spiritual leader came up to me and said ‘I hope you realize the difference you could make in business and business could be the biggest force for good if you choose to do so." Fast forward to January 2020, new year, new decade. There were possibilities everywhere but I felt uncertain, unsettled. I thought it was because we had so many big plans like Tokyo Olympics, SuperBowl etc but then our Chief Communications Officer told us that we need to announce that P&G employees need to work from home until further notice owing to Covid-19, we had watched our colleagues deal with the virus in China and today it hit home. The unsettling feeling turned to certainty, doubts turned into resolve and the mission became clear, step up as a force for good.”
That is when P&G established three priorities for the days to come -- protect the safety of P&G employees, serving consumers, and supporting communities. These were not unique to P&G because it was a collective timeout for human beings. Pritchard talks about how they approached the crisis, “As healthcare workers fought the pandemic on the frontline, P&G became the frontline manufacturers and distribution workers worked round the clock to provide the needed products as people rushed to stock up. We reviewed every communication to the lens of being useful like sanitizing surfaces, skincare after wearing a mask all day, offering free laundry services for frontline responders and so on. The focus was on how to help because being a force for good was about being useful.”
To support the society, P&G launched various initiatives such as #DistanceDance where they got a Tiktok star to come up with an original dance challenging people to stay home and stay safe. For the first 3 million videos posted, P&G donated products to families in need. Also through their #TalkAboutBias and #WeSeeEqual initiative, they created awareness and went on to help various communities in need because they believed that people who are the most discriminated against are the ones who suffer most disproportionately and P&G didn’t want those kind of inequalities to widen. They tackled gender inequality, racial discrimination etc under this initiative.
The company also wrapped up efforts to be useful to communities, expanding existing disaster relief operations to donate cash, products and personal protective equipment to families in need and to more than 200 relief organisations worldwide. In Pritchard’s words, “We made a deliberate choice to not make a public proclamation about donations, because being a force for good is about actions and not headlines.”

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