It was the shot heard around
the advertising world. But, in a sense, it missed its mark.
In a landmark speech to the American Association of Advertising
Agencies in May 1994, former Procter & Gamble Co. Chairman-CEO
Edwin L. Artzt warned of the demise of advertising unless agencies
girded for an interactive future.
But the future Mr. Artzt envisioned was interactive TV, an
undeveloped medium then--and now. His core message: If advertisers
and media didn't take action, interactive TV would emerge without
advertising support, meaning advertisers such as P&G could no
longer count on broadcast TV to reach a mass audience.
"Within the next few years--surely before the end of the
decade--consumers will be choosing among hundreds of shows and
pay-per-view movies," Mr. Artzt said in '94. "They'll have dozens of
home shopping channels. They'll play hours of interactive
That didn't happen, at least not on interactive TV. But the
speech was the big-advertiser push needed to thrust agencies into
what would be called "the interactive space." And, given the
Internet explosion that started in 1995, Mr. Artzt's speech looks
prescient in hindsight.
At the time, the Internet still was primarily a plaything of the
technical elite, who used arcane tools to hunt down academic
information. Netscape had only opened shop a month earlier to
develop its Web browser. And the online world was dominated by
dial-up services Prodigy and CompuServe, dogged by fast-follower
Bob Herbold, P&G's former senior VP-information services and
advertising, wrote the speech for the now-retired Mr. Artzt, but he
would never get a chance to practice what he preached at P&G. He
soon headed to Microsoft Corp., where he ultimately became exec
VP-chief operating officer and helped spearhead that company's
investment in e-commerce and Web advertising.
Indeed, P&G didn't launch interactive marketing in earnest
for another two years.
Even so, Mr. Artzt's speech reverberated in ways that would
reshape marketing at P&G and elsewhere.
Pete Blackshaw, former interactive brand manager at P&G, a
key shaper of its interactive efforts and co-chair of the 1998
Future of Advertising Stakeholders Summit, says the speech helped
lead him into interactive marketing and to P&G. Mr. Blackshaw
left the company last year to launch online consumer feedback site
Planetfeedback.com, but he still sees the speech as a watershed.
"I would put it akin to [former Soviet leader] Mikhail
Gorbachev's warning that free markets are just around the corner and
[Russia had] better get ready for them."
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