Profiting from Collaboration

Posted by  chandni —January 21, 2009
Filed in Anecdotes, Collaboration


Google and P&G are both known for their innovation capabilities and strict internal policy. Driven by market forces, they made an exception. They swapped about two-dozen staffers who spent weeks dipping into each other’s staff training programs and sitting in on meetings where business plans get hammered out. This is terrific example of purposeful collaboration delivering results.

The Wall Street Journal reported that about a year ago, P&G’s then global marketing officer, Jim Stengel, was concerned that one of the biggest initiatives in the company’s laundry-soap history — a switch to smaller bottles with a more concentrated formula — didn’t include enough of an online search-term marketing campaign. Google, on the other hand, was interested because they were keen to get a slice of P&G’s $8.7 billion annual ad pie. (Read full article here.)

The opportunity to collaborate generated many tangible benefits for both companies. And that’s not surprising because a collaboration experience can improve the level of conversation, energise teams and have a positive impact on the bottomline. This example illustrates three ways that companies can profit from a simple collaboration program.

1. Identify missed opportunities

In April, when actress Salma Hayek unveiled an ambitious promotion for P&G’s Pampers brand, the Google team was stunned to learn that Pampers hadn’t invited any “motherhood” bloggers — women who run popular Web sites about child-rearing — to attend the press conference. “Where are the bloggers?” asked a Google staffer in disbelief, according one person present.
…With mommy-bloggers, Pampers was quick to follow Google’s advice. After failing to invite any to its April Pampers press conference, in July it invited a dozen or so to visit P&G’s baby division in Cincinnati. The bloggers claim to have drawn anywhere from one-hundred thousand to six million visitors to their Web sites.

2. Learn how to embrace change

The big question that P&G grappled with was “How does a brand morph from one-way to two-way communication with the consumer?”

One of the first results of the collaboration was an online campaign inviting people to make spoof videos of P&G’s “Talking Stain” TV ad and post them to YouTube… In the end, of the 227 spoofs submitted, a handful were deemed good enough by P&G to air on TV. The campaign was successful enough that Tide plans to use more consumer-generated content in the future, P&G says.

3. Understand each others’ language

Google job-swappers have started adopting P&G’s lingo. During a session on evaluating in-store displays, a P&G marketer described the company’s standard method, known as “stop, hold, close”: Product packaging first needs to “stop” a shopper, Mr. Lichtig said. “Hold” is a pause to read the label, and “close” is when a shopper puts the product in the cart. Google’s Ms. Chudy gasped. “This is just like our text ads,” she said. The headline is the “stop,” its description is the “hold” and the “close” is clicking through to the Web site. “This is going to get so much easier, now that I’m learning their language,” she said.

External collaboration can have many advantages. The biggest being that it allows new ideas and disciplines to enter the organization, some (or most) of which challenge the status quo of practices, processes and the way the industry works.

Something to think about:

  • How can you profit from collaboration?
  • Who are the people you can invite to collaborate with?
  • What will be your first step to getting started?

About  chandni


  1. Good story. Can’t resist observing that P&G gained some very profitable ideas from Google, and in return Google picked up some silly jargon to describe what they were already doing 🙂

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