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P&G Asia brand director: ‘We were clickbaiters – and a giant duck still got more likes than we did’

A leading marketeer for Procter & Gamble in Asia has revealed that she had “generations of training” in how to make Facebook adverts, but that the company still became a “clickbaiter”.

Priyali Kamath, brand director for P&G’s hair care division, told a panel in Singapore that despite the company’s efforts, posts about the giant yellow duck in Hong Kong Harbour got more ‘Likes’ than any of its own branded messaging.

Speaking about digital transformation during the All That Matters conference at the Ritz Carlton, Kamath said her training on using Facebook ads had since “gone around 360 degrees” and returned to the “simple principles of marketing”.

She said: “I’ve been through generations of training in how to make a good Facebook ad, which has gone around 360 degrees and come back to the simple principles of marketing. We went through lots of complications in how to get clicks – we were clickbaiters. We honestly were. And yet that duck in Hong Kong Harbour got more likes than any of pure branded messaging, and we thought that’s maybe a good thing. But it’s not and it doesn’t help brands or businesses. It’s taken us time to get to where we are and the simplicity of those core marketing principles.”

Priyali Kamath: “I don’t remember the last time I watched TV.”

She added: “Where I think the [digital] capability will really work is when the message gets impacted by the medium. If you come in thinking ‘it all starts with my TV copy’ and then cut it down for a five-second pre-roll for YouTube and get away with it for free – you put your branding up front and you get an impression – then that’s not going to work.

“Consumers have changed. I don’t remember the last time I watched TV. But I do consume a lot of content on my mobile phone, then if you want to reach me, that’s where you’ll find me. For marketers to be successful today, it’s about remembering those fundamental principles and being able to translate them to different mediums – and understand how that medium works differently from TV. That’s where the skills gap lies today.”

Her comments follow those of P&G’s chief brand officer Marc Pritchard, who earlier this year demanded greater transparency for advertisers in the digital arena. 

Speaking at the time, he said: “The days of giving digital a pass are over. It’s time to grow up. It’s time for action.” He also memorably called the media supply chain “murky at best, and fraudulent at worst”.

During the panel session, L’Oreal Asia-Pacific media and digital director Jee Seon Park called for an end to the “jargon” used by media agencies, and for better education in digital marketing at the C-suite level.

She said: “I want to challenge the industry: within data marketing there is so much jargon. We speak about the DSP and DMP to our CEO and it’s clear we lose the topic. If you really want to talk about the data marketing then you need to educate the CEO and the CFO. If the industry cannot find a way to simply explain that, how does the digital impact the business, then there will be no transformation coming from the top-down.

Jee Seon Park

“When we do media pitches, every agency comes to us and says: ‘we have data and we can target people’. Ok so what do you mean? Unless you know this part of the world very well, the interpretation will be very different between marketing and IT. Especially for the marketers. That’s a massive black hole. And when they can understand that, then we can transform.”

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