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Cannes 2010: How advertising could benefit from Google-Microsoft collaboration

By Prajjal Saha , afaqs!, Cannes | In Advertising | June 28, 2010
In a highly interactive session, Maurice Levy speaks to Bob McDonald, chairman & CEO, P&G; Nikesh Arora, president, global sales and operations & business development, Google; and Darren Huston, corporate VP, consumer & online, Microsoft

In a session that followed Sir Martin Sorrell's debate with Unilever's Keith Weed; another advertising top boss, Maurice Levy, chairman & CEO, Publicis took to the stage at Debussy on Friday. What followed was yet another highly interactive discussion with three marketers: Bob McDonald, chairman & CEO, P&G; Nikesh Arora, president, global sales and operations & business development, Google; and Darren Huston, corporate vice-president, consumer & online, Microsoft.

Levy's first question was for McDonald, on the immediate challenges before P&G. McDonald replied, "To drive further growth, the focus has to be both on emerging and developed markets."

& #BANNER1 & #He cited the example of China, where P&G is four times bigger than the competition; yet, it is only present in 15 categories. Comparing China with the US, he said, "In China, a person, on an average, spends $3 a year; but in the US, the figure is $ 100." However, in the US, P&G still needs to increase its rapport with the Hispanic and Afro Asian communities.

McDonald also said that P&G has been trying to persuade the Chinese government to create economies in hitherto untapped rural areas.

Next, the discussion moved to Google and Microsoft, where it was said that collaboration between the two could help the advertising world. Both Microsoft and Google laughed this off.

Arora of Google said, "A harmonious working relationship between two competitors is still far away; yet, a discussion like this is a good beginning."

Huston commented that while the world is going digital, marketing is lagging behind. P&G's McDonald retaliated, saying that P&G is one of first companies to have digitised its workflow and reach out to consumers.

Talking about the benefits of going digital, Arora said that while digital allows one-to-one engagement, it also enables mass customisation.

He reiterated, "Content, in the next decade, would be consumed digitally and engagement will be through technology." The challenge is to be tech-enabled as per the employees' needs.

He commented that brand managers still use the old methods for feedback, whereas new mediums, such as mobile and internet, could provide interesting insights for them. Besides, these mediums can also be used for engagement.