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Desi Jagger's Blog

My P&G Story #13: Superdrug & the inflatable kangaroos

My very first day at P&G. I dressed up for it. Over-dressed, in fact (P&G had a fairly relaxed dress code but of course I didn’t know this at the time). I was smart and ready for this job and I was going to make an impression!

 

I was working on Aussie hair care, the coolest* brand in the building (*all marketers secretly believed this, even if they stood up for their own brands). My team took me through my very detailed work plan. The most urgent and important project at the time was the Superdrug in-store plan for Australia Day. They said it was all about incremental display, in-store execution, return on investment, customer collaboration…and Aussifying the stores. I kept nodding, but to be honest I was a little overwhelmed – my theoretical marketing classes had not prepared me for this.

 

The only thing I truly understood was that I had to get a bunch of inflatable kangaroos into Superdrug stores on 26 January. Delivering brilliantly and on time is a big value for me, so I clung onto this concrete deliverable like my life depended on it.

 

 

The problem was, no one else’s life seemed to depend on these inflatable kangaroos. Procurement had strict criteria on what kind of plastics were deemed safe for consumers – 99% were not. The supplier would take a few extra weeks to deliver because of Chinese New Year (how unlucky was this?!). To top it all off, the P&G account manager went on holiday during the most critical time when we had to decide on the size of the kangaroos! How was this allowed!?

 

As a responsible individual, and one that would not fail on her first project at her first job, I took matters into my own hands. I called the Superdrug buyer directly. I had never met her, or even spoken to her before. The conversation went something like this:

 

“Hello, my name is Desi and I work on Aussie. We need your urgent approval on the inflatable kangaroos for the in-store event.”

 

I could practically hear the confusion in her silence. I thought I better explain the severe consequences of delaying the approval.

 

“If we don’t get the approval today, we will miss the delivery because the lead time is longer because it’s Chinese New Year and then [my own version of ‘the incremental display, in-store execution, return on investment and Aussifying the stores’] will be ruined!”

 

Still confused and possibly slightly amused or perhaps angry, the buyer relented “Let me see what I can do.”

 

 

Yes, inflatable kangaroos exist. And yes, they must wear a seatbelt in my car.

 

 

The inflatable kangaroos made it in-store on time and the event delivered excellent results. I was proud and excited and felt all the hard work and stress was worth it. Once I had some time to cool down, the account manager invited me for a coffee and a s**t sandwich. In case you haven’t heard this expression before, it’s basically giving bad feedback sandwiched between two positive things, to soften the blow:

 

He said he had never seen anyone so fierce and determined to deliver a project. Oh, and by the way, the inflatable kangaroos were just a small executional detail amongst many other factors that made the in-store event a success. Now keep up the great work and positive spirit!

 

Was he saying I had pestered the Superdrug buyer and obsessed over some inflatable kangaroos that didn’t even matter? Yes, that’s exactly what he was saying.

 

The results were good so I let it pass. But I did learn a valuable lesson for my next in-store executions: inflatable kangaroos are optional.

 

 

Get unstuck by zooming out and looking at the big picture. What are the critical factors that will make or break your project?

 

Feel like you’re wasting energy on small things? Coaching helps you identify the critical factors and do work that matters. The first critical factor for coaching is booking your free consultation.

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