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Don Tapscott

Google and Procter & Gamble Swap Employees

Here’s a cool story: Two companies that couldn’t be more different have teamed up to learn more about what makes the other tick. In an experiment that can reasonably described as a foreign exchange program for corporate strategists, ad giant Google and one of the world’s largest producers and marketers of consumer packaged goods Procter & Gamble are trading employees as part of a training and executive education initiative.

As the Wall Street Journal notes:

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.

One can imagine many comical, yet extremely valuable exchanges like the one captured in the WSJ article:

As the two companies started working together, the gulf between them quickly became apparent. 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.

For their part, P&G employees gasped in surprise during a Tide brand meeting when a Google job-swapper apparently didn’t realize that Tide’s signature orange-colored packaging is a key part of the brand’s image.

I wonder what other kinds of collaborative employee exchanges could prove beneficial? How about healthcare providers and pharmaceuticals? Large retailers and product design teams? Marketers and contact center employees? Anyone thinking about video game designers and corporate IT executives? University professors and social media companies?

Tags: Brand, Work


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