P&G awaits study

Next month, Procter & Gamble's global task force on organizational effectiveness is scheduled to hand in its much-anticipated company review.U.S.-based P&G launched the worldwide self-examination in January with the goal of ensuring that it 'remains cost-competitive and continues to compete as...

Next month, Procter & Gamble’s global task force on organizational effectiveness is scheduled to hand in its much-anticipated company review.

U.S.-based P&G launched the worldwide self-examination in January with the goal of ensuring that it ‘remains cost-competitive and continues to compete as effectively as possible in the global marketplace,’ according to a company statement.

While business analysts have said the task force will likely call for staff reductions through normal attrition and early retirement as part of any serious cost-cutting exercise, it is not expected the Canadian marketing division of the multinational packaged goods firm will be targetted for special attention.

Notwithstanding its reputation in marketing circles for maintaining a bloated employee roster, p&g in Canada runs a pared-down operation compared with its parent company in the u.s.

Related to volume

According to a senior p&g executive in Canada who spoke to Strategy on the condition of anonymity, the number of people the company assigns to a brand is directly related to the brand’s sales volume.

And since individual brand sales are typically higher in the u.s. than in Canada, which has a population only 1/10 the size, u.s. brand management teams tend to be considerably larger.

Still, the insider believes the company-wide organizational review, entitled ‘Strengthening Global Effectiveness,’ could lead to some downsizing activity within the Canadian marketing ranks.

‘Downsizing is nothing new at p&g,’ the insider says.

‘We’ve been downsizing here for a long time, well over a year. There’s no program in place, but many units have been doing it on their own through attrition and consolidation because units that are large and fat are ineffective.

Mindboggling

‘It’s mindboggling how many marketing people we have just looking for something to do. So what ends up happening is the senior people spend all their time making promotional work for the juniors, who would otherwise be bored.

‘Ultimately, the brand advertising suffers because, with all the promotions they have to supervise, the senior people take their eye off the advertising ball,’ the insider says. ‘And they cut into their advertising budgets because they have to pay for all the promotions.’

Work force

p&g employs about 103,000 workers worldwide. In Canada, it has a work force of 3,500, about 150 of whom hold marketing titles.

Andrew Shore, an analyst at PaineWebber in New York, predicts the company’s global work force will be reduced by 5,000 to 10,000 as a result of the program.

p&g in the u.s. has said that if the report calls for staff reductions, they will be managed through ‘reassignments, normal attrition and retirements.’

Tom Gove, director of public relations with p&g in Canada, says the company ‘is looking at how it needs to be structured as a global company to avoid the fate of companies such as ibm, Boeing and General Motors.

Not an issue

Asked if p&g’s global efficiency drive might include a plan to fold parts of the Canadian marketing operation into that of the u.s. parent company, Gove says the topic never comes up.

‘It’s just not an issue,’ he says.

Another Canadian p&g staff member, who also requested anonymity, says the company’s marketers are not suffering from low morale as a result of the uncertainty.

‘We’re used to studies and more studies,’ the staff member says.

‘Anyway, many people here will tell you, we need to slim down. If you’re good at your job, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.’