For Marc Pritchard, Procter & Gamble’s chief brand officer, the past few weeks have laid bare something that’s been a part of American life for centuries: the scourge of racism and systemic inequality.
“Now it is inescapable, and we must deal with that,” he said.
The best way to do so, according to Pritchard, is through deliberate intervention. Or, as he put it, by using “systemic action to eliminate systemic inequality.” This means hiring more BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) staff and demanding the same of partners within the advertising industry, which Pritchard called “too white.”
“I was in a meeting the other day, and I made it very clear: I never want to see another advertising storyboard that doesn’t reflect the population we serve,” said Pritchard, who is of Mexican heritage. “Then I looked around the room and said, ‘I never want to see another meeting where it doesn’t reflect the population we serve.’”
Pritchard made these remarks Thursday during a virtual media roundtable for the Queen Collective, a program created by P&G, Queen Latifah and Tribeca Studios that offers mentorship, resources and opportunities for young women filmmakers of color. This year’s beneficiaries are Samantha Knowles, who produced a documentary about the discrimination against Black hair titled Tangled Roots, and co-directors Nadine Natour and Ugonna Okpalaoka, who profiled boxer and police officer Tiara Brown in a film called Gloves Off.
Both Tangled Roots and Gloves Off are scheduled to premiere on BET and BET Her this Saturday.
On Wednesday, during Oprah Winfrey’s CBS special on racism in America, P&G debuted an ad titled “The Choice.” The spot features close-up images of skin and, with superimposed text, urges those with white skin to rally against racism.
“There’s a lot of people in the silent majority, particularly in the white community, that need to step up,” Pritchard said. “But they’re frozen. They’re not sure what to do.”
To help encourage action, Pritchard noted that P&G has compiled a list of resources—articles, videos, charitable organizations—available on the company’s website.
“The Choice” follows in the footsteps of P&G’s previous spots that make a statement on racial inequality. Last year, the Cincinnati-based company released “The Look,” which focuses on the subtle yet significant moments of bias that come from a glance. Two years earlier, P&G debuted “The Talk,” which features Black parents explaining to their children that they will face prejudice and discrimination.
In late May, P&G, in partnership with media advocacy group GLAAD, released a study showing that increased exposure to LGBTQ people through ads, films and TV is tied to higher rates of acceptance.
“It’s human nature that familiarity can lead to a greater degree of acceptance,” Pritchard said of the findings.
Similar to other major CPG manufacturers, P&G has benefited from consumers stockpiling on supplies during the pandemic. For the quarter ending March 31, the company reported net sales of $17.2 billion, up 5% compared to the same time period last year.