A.G. Lafley names Canadian ad as his current fave

Hint: Think scooters.

Procter & Gamble president/chairman/CEO A.G. Lafley highlighted Vespa Canada’s ‘Jump’ TV spot by Toronto-based Dentsu Canada as his current favourite ad at a press conference at the Cannes ad festival this morning. The ad features a hipster-like guy attempting to jump a row of cars with his Vespa. He fails, and later drives off with a beautiful woman. The tagline is ‘Vespa, not built for jumping. Vespa, built for love.’

‘It’s unique, and they’re very clear about what they stand for,’ says Lafley, adding that he used to ride a Vespa to high school in 1963. ‘I now own four Vespas. I know, it’s a bit excessive.’

P&G called the press conference in response to being named Advertiser of the Year at the festival. ‘We’ve come a long way in being a magnet client,’ says Jim Stengel, global marketing officer, adding that the company’s work got a record 100 short-list nods this year. ‘We come [to Cannes] to raise our standards.’

Stengel and Lafley answered both pre-submitted questions (like their favourite current ads – Stengel picked Adidas’s ‘Impossible is Nothing’ campaign) as well as live questions from the press.

They both emphasized that digital marketing is a big focus for them right now. ‘It’s not an emerging medium anymore. The world is digital,’ Stengel says. ‘It enables stronger relationships.’ P&G has a formal employee exchange program with Google, enabling its staff to become more tech-savvy, while the Google team gets an inside look at the packaged goods world. ‘We aspire to be not just competent, but eloquent in the digital world,’ says Lafley.

They’re also working on figuring out the best way to leverage mobile. ‘The world is going mobile, so we need to be there,’ says Stengel. He points to P&G’s Japanese mobile magazine for women, Hitokoto, as a mobile success story for the company. ‘The question [was] how could we be of service to consumers as they commute?’

When it comes to sustainability, the trick is being authentic, says Lafley. ‘This is a dangerous area,’ he says. ‘We try to err on the side of under-promising and over-delivering.’

They say the possibility of a recession won’t affect their marketing budget – it will remain the same percentage of their sales. ‘We believe in consistent, reliable, sustainable budgets,’ says Lafley.

P&G will receive its award at tomorrow night’s awards gala, the last of the Cannes festival for 2008.