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Volume 21 No. 2
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The Gatekeepers: David Palmer

Director of global sports marketing, Procter & Gamble

The first time David Palmer brought multiple brands together was for an NFL sponsorship signed in 2009. Febreze, Gillette, Head & Shoulders, Old Spice, Prilosec OTC and Vicks were among the brands that participated, and Palmer compared coordinating their involvement to “herding cats.”

“When I came into the role here at P&G, the sports marketing department was in its infancy,” Palmer said. “We learned a lot from Gillette, and the sports sponsorships they’d done in the past.”

David Palmer
One of the things P&G learned was it could cut more favorable agreements with properties by bringing multiple brands together. The concept led to a dramatic shift in marketing at P&G. Prior to the NFL deal, the company let its individual brands cut their own sponsorships. Today, it develops marketing plans that involve the entire portfolio of 22 brands.

“We’re really now trying to go to market as Procter & Gamble and really leverage scale,” Palmer said during a SportsBusiness Journal conference last year. “We see a lot of synergy between our brands, and the advantages we can have talking as one. It’s a big step for us as a company, and a real leap of faith.”

That broader thinking is apparent in not only the NFL deal but also

the company’s recent, 10-year deal with the International Olympic Committee. The P&G brands participating in the partnership include Pampers, Tide, Ariel, Always, Whisper, Crest, Pantene and Olay.

Palmer says the new strategy makes P&G more “choiceful” in its sponsorships. He added, “It’s not just go out and sign partnerships and go. There has to be an opportunity to drive scale while linking to our purpose. One thing we like about the International Olympic Committee partnership is their idea for improving life through sport. That fits well with P&G’s purpose of touching lives and improving life.”

Where properties could do better: “We’re looking for scalable innovations. We don’t want to just be pitched, ‘You get the rights to use my logo.’ We want to understand marketing programs, their purpose and how it’s a fit with P&G.”

Recent program that provided the best return and why: “The obvious answer to that would be our partnership with the U.S. Olympic Committee. We learned a lot and were on to something that was purpose driven that met not only the needs of the company but the needs of our brands. We expanded that into a global partnership very shortly after receiving those results.”

The onset of social media means they can: “For us it means that we have the ability to reach more consumers quicker and faster than the traditional old guard TV and print. It helps drive real-time immediacy.”