• Connect:

Behind many a successful product, there’s a sharply focused intention to improve lives.

by Jim Stengel

The pivotal assignment during my early career at Procter & Gamble (P&G) was Jif peanut butter. Jif was a US$250 million business when I joined its brand management team in 1984. Before consumer engagement became the vogue in marketing, we conducted an unusual number of in-home visits and “shop-alongs” with moms. These occasions sharpened my team’s sense of Jif’s core customers. They weren’t simply women between the ages of 18 and 34; they were highly engaged moms with young children.

As a result, my guiding thought was to make Jif the most loved peanut butter by exemplifying and supporting what these moms valued. We had to have the highest quality and make sure there were no traces of carcinogenic aflatoxins, which are toxins produced by mold, in the peanuts we used. We had to address concerns about healthfulness and nutrition. We had to have great taste that young kids loved.

Jif had abandoned its famous “Choosy mothers choose Jif” slogan for “Taste the ‘Jifference’ in Jif.” But our deeper understanding helped me realize that the older slogan better expressed what we stood for. I brought it back, which was then an unheard-of move at P&G. We also created a full-page newspaper ad campaign headlined “The Answer Is No,” which explained that our peanut butter had no cholesterol, no preservatives, and no artificial colors or flavors. It was based on the top 10 questions moms asked us about Jif. In tune with our overall effort to support their values, we held national promotions in which we donated 10 cents per jar to local parent–teacher associations.

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