"We were a company with $11 billion in sales, and now are one with $83.5 million in sales and 24 $1 billion brands. So it's steady and sustainable and a remarkable growth journey." He says it's also all about growth in terms of what the company stands for. "We have a tendency to overcomplicate things. The simpler the better; the simpler the more profound."
Five lessons he's learned: why five? "It's my favorite number. I was born on 5/5/55."
Lesson One: Put people at the center of all you do. Treat your people the way you would want your customers treated. "We too often forget brands are people. It's the collective intent of people behind them," he says.
"I have learned in my career that the most important legacy is the impact you will have with the people you work with. We all have rough months, rough years, which blend together, but what you will remember is relationships and people."
Lesson Two: Engage your heart and mind in everything you do. Says Stengel: "We need balance. Too often as an industry we approach everything with head, not heart. We often talk within P&G of the personal relationship as a metaphor for marketing. How many of us internalize that and apply it to how we approach business and customers?"
Stengel brought in audience participation: What's characteristic of great relationships? he asked. Trust, respect, love, and humor were some of the responses. "If we thought about everything we do in marketing--if they all tried to emanate from this idea of great relationship--we would do and measure things differently."
He offered brands other than P&G's as examples: Apple, Southwest Airlines, online shoe company Zappos, and Amazon.com. "What we find with the strongest brands is they have strength and competitive advantage in emotional areas that drive brand," he said.
Lesson Three: Results. "In our industry we tend to make things complicated, focusing on activities that don't drive brand," said Stengel. "Why are CMO tenures short? Look at organization designs across companies; they are all over the place Too much spend goes to short-term and tactical that doesn't build loyalty and relationship with consumers."
He asked, rhetorically, why many CEO's and CFO's don't value marketing. "Because we focus too much on a bustle of activities, not the few things that drive growth of brand. Sales are important, but if you don't look at other measures of brand health, you are being shortsighted."
Lesson Four: Creativity is about solving problems. We too often have the wrong discussion with agencies. We talk fees, etc, short-term stuff--not how to come together about how to create a powerful brand."
The last lesson led into a preview of what Stengel plans next: have a purpose. "I am devoting the next chapter of my life to this mission. He cautioned that, by purpose, he doesn't mean cause-based marketing, but an inspirational, motivational reason for being. "For example, Nike's purpose is to build self-esteem, to be an inspiration for athletes around the world."
The purpose of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish? "To bring optimism to children. Old Spice? To help guys navigate the seas of manhood," he said.
Next he will form a new venture called Jim Stengel, whose mission, he said, "is to be a catalyst and change agent globally to lift marketing to a higher level of purpose and performance." Stengel said he is writing a book, Package Good, which he says builds a business case for purpose marketing.
Stengel's last public statement as a P&G employee, at least at the ANA: "If you have been inspired by these lessons, make a personal commitment to try to bring some of this to life in your organization. We have so much talent; we spend so much money," he said. "We can lift this to a higher level together if you take this back and make some personal commitments."