Reaction to A.G. Lafley’s return to P&G

Fomer P&Gers, Rob Linden at SampleSource and Robb Hadley at PepsiCo, react to the return of the man who once brought much-needed innovation and thought-leadership to the company.
AG Lafley

A.G. Lafley has (not-so-quietly) slipped out of retirement, and is back in the saddle as P&G’s new president and CEO, effective immediately. He takes over from 33-year P&G vet Bob McDonald, who was appointed to the position in 2009, only to step down on Thursday after a rocky period of investor frustrations with the company’s recent sluggish performance and declining sales.

Strategy reached out to former P&G employees, who once worked under both Lafley and McDonald, to get their take on the move, and what it means for the future of the company.

Robb Hadley, marketing director, enjoyment and transformation, PepsiCo

What struck me about A.G.’s leadership at P&G was the simplicity and absolute clarity of his strategy.  Over a hundred thousand employees could all proudly tell their moms about what the company was doing.  Putting consumers first, growing billion-dollar brands and launching game-changing innovation.  It was inspiring stuff.

Bob faced massive challenges with spiking commodity prices and an economic downturn that disproportionately hurt premium brands.  I think he did what he had to do.  However, there weren’t many young P&Gers Skyping their parents to tell them how they helped free up cash flow so the company could deliver $4 billion in stock buybacks. If A.G. can get P&Gers heads, hearts and hands all pulling in the same direction, working for a purpose beyond just what a few vocal investors are demanding, there’s nothing they can’t do.

Hadley worked at P&G for over 13 years under both Lafley and McDonald’s leadership.

Rob Linden, sales and marketing director, SampleSource

A.G. is a fantastic leader – well-known internally at P&G and externally in the marketing and advertising community. To this day his legacy is still felt and used in the marketing world.

What I remember the most about A.G. was his ability to develop, deploy, and entrench strong rallying calls that brought together the organization with clear focus and determination.

Many of his rallying calls helped propel P&G to all-time lustre and also made their way into the general industry lexicon at other companies, both direct and indirect. Things like FMOT (First Moment Of Truth – which led to Google’s term of “zero moment of truth”), Consumer is Boss thinking and planning, and Store-back philosophy (treating the store as a core primary touch point in the consumer journey and one which touches all consumers).

Seasoned CPG expertise, an understanding of organizational efficiency, leveraging the power of the Procter portfolio, a global outlook, and an innovation-led mindset will be core skills he brings back with him.

I’m confident it will lead to strong growth for the company once again, as it did under his previous leadership.

Linden worked at P&G in brand management for nine years, mostly under Lafley, and briefly under McDonald’s leadership.

Photo: PR Newswire