Brand Man: Origin of Product Management

Neil McElroy | | 4 minutes to read.

Quoting wikipedia for history of product management - ‘The concept of product management originates from a 1931 memo by Procter & Gamble President Neil H. McElroy. McElroy, requesting additional employees focused on brand management, needed “Brand Men” who would take on the role of managing products, packaging, positioning, distribution, and sales performance.’. Following is that 1931 memo.

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Because I think it may be of some help to you in putting through our recommendation for additional men for the Promotion Department, I am outlining briefly below the duties and responsibilities of the brand men.

This outline does not represent the situation as it is but as we will have it when we have sufficient man power. In past years the brand men have been forced to do work that should have been passed on to assistant brand men, if they had been available and equal to the job.

Brand Man

  1. Study carefully shipments of his brands by units.
  2. Where brand development is heavy and where it is progressing, examine carefully the combination of effort that seems to be clicking and try to apply this same treatment to other territories that are comparable.
  3. Where brand development is light
    1. Study the past advertising and promotional history of the brand; study the territory personally at first hand – both dealers and consumers – in order to find out the trouble.
    2. After uncovering our weakness, develop a plan that can be applied to this local sore spot. It is necessary, of course, not simply to work out the plan but also to be sure that the amount of money proposed can be expected to produce results at a reasonable cost per case.
    3. Outline this plan in detail to the Division Manager under whose jurisdiction the weak territory is, obtain his authority and support for the corrective action.
    4. Prepare sales helps and all other necessary material for carrying out the plan. Pass it on to the districts. Work with the salesmen while they are getting started. Follow through to the very finish to be sure that there is no let-down in sales operation of the plan.
    5. Keep whatever records are necessary, and make whatever field studies are necessary to determine whether the plan has produced the expected results.
  4. Take full responsibility, not simply for criticizing individual pieces of printed word copy, but also for the general printed word plans for his brands.
  5. Take full responsibility for all other advertising expenditures – Field, D.C.A. etc. – on his brands.
  6. Experiment with and recommend wrapper revisions.
  7. See each District Manager a number of times a year to discuss with him any possible faults in our promotion plans for that territory.

In short, when the brand men have approached their fullest responsibilities, they should be able to take from the shoulders of the Division Managers and of the District Managers a very heavy share of individual brand responsibility. This would leave the sales heads in a much freer position to administer the sales policies of the Company and apply general volume pressure without having to give such a large proportion of their time to thought on how to bring up volume on a certain brand in a certain part of the territory.

Assistant Brand Man

  1. Take care of the office work which will have been laid out by the brand man, which must be followed through, checked and edited.
  2. Make field studies as directed by the brand man.
  3. Keep in touch with all printed word, field and D.C.A. plans.
  4. Finally, be able to step into the shoes of his superior at a moment’s notice.

With the above outline of responsibilities it is not hard to understand that one man should not have to work on more than two brands at the very most. I am sure that the need for a Group Products brand man, part of whose responsibility will be chain and voluntary chain promotion, will be equally obvious.

Group Products Check-Up Men

The brand men in the past have unfortunately been tied up too closely to their office work because their assistants have had to be out of the office on field check-ups a large share of the time. A great majority of these checking jobs could be handled by less responsible men than assistant brand men.

We believe that we can relieve the entire situation by adding to our organization two men – and perhaps more as their need is felt – whose duties would be field checking on all products. These men would relieve the assistant brand men of a good share of their traveling. This, in turn, would allow the brand men to pass over to their assistants office work which is keeping them from their more important field studies.

With these two men our organization would be lined up as shown on the attached chart headed “Division of Brand Responsibilities in 6-Man Organization.”