Google's New Executive Training Program: Send Wacky Staff To P&G To Get Starched

Google and P&G have launched an “executive swap,” in which Google’s hall-scooting, kite-surfing creative types can mix with P&G’s disciplined army, and vice versa. We assume the program is affectionately known as “two weeks in hell.”

What Google is really after, of course, is more of P&G’s $9 billion of annual ad spending. We can’t imagine clicking on a search ad for Crest, but perhaps P&G could help solve YouTube’s business-model problem.

WSJ: So far, about two-dozen staffers from the two companies have spent weeks dipping into each other’s staff training programs and sitting in on meetings where business plans get hammered out. The initiative has drawn little notice. Previously, neither company had granted this kind of access to outsiders.

Closer ties are crucial to both sides. P&G, the biggest advertising spender in the world, is waking up to the reality that the next generation of laundry-detergent, toilet-paper and skin-cream buyers now spends more time online than watching TV. Google craves a bigger slice of P&G’s $8.7 billion annual ad pie as its own revenue growth slows.

The struggle by these two heavyweights to formulate successful strategies highlights how tough it is for myriad other companies, from newspapers to auto makers, to profit from Americans’ rush online.

“We’re trying to open the eyes of our brand managers,” says P&G’s Stan Joosten, whose title is “digital innovation manager,” a job that didn’t exist until last spring.


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