How this former Procter and Gamble marketer navigated a 30-year career

Marketing veteran, Joanne Crewes, chats lessons learned and the current state of play at Ooh! Media

Joanne Crewes knows all too well about pressure. Business and marketing pressure, that is. As Procter and Gamble’s (P&G) former president of the Global Prestige Business, she managed a US$4 billion business unit.

She’s also worn a gamut of hats. First starting at P&G in 1988 as the A/NZ brand manager, Crewes moved to marketing director, general manager, then vice-president of female beauty for A/NZ, ASEAN and India, to vice-president of emerging markets in Asia, and vice-president of Asia Beauty. Her final post at P&G before leaving in 2014 was president of Global Prestige.

Overall, Crewes has 27 years of brand building expertise in the FMCG industry. Today, the former P&G executive and marketing veteran, is a non-executive director for ASX-listed Dulux, oOh Media, Global Advance and RM Williams.

CMO caught up with Crewes to talk lessons learned during her time in high-powered marketing and business chairs, as well as insights on moving into the world of boardrooms and non-executive directorship.  

Joanne Crewes
Joanne Crewes


First and foremost, today’s CMOs need a passion for the consumer - a critical way of thinking Crewes learnt 30 years ago as a fresh-faced brand manager.

“Building the brand equity is key. And continuing to be very fastidious about return on investment and making sure the way you spend the money provides you with the right marketing effectiveness and ROI, and never being lazy about that,” she says.   

“P&G was a huge education for me. It was a first-class education in how to really be a bluechip marketing company, how to work in a bluechip marketing company, and, therefore, how to develop brands focused on consumers. How to build brand equity, and how to drive high return on investment with the marketing campaigns.”  

As roles evolved and Crewes broadened from marketing to general manager and vice-president roles, so too did her belief in the power of the customer. As president of Global Prestige, she ran all operations and strategy for a multi-brand portfolio regionally, from implementation and strategy, innovation programs, manufacturing, sales, marketing, as well as operational disciplines, from legal to governance.

“Having been trained in a bluechip marketing company, having also been a very strong and remain a very strong passionate marketer, I see the strength of how marketing - and ultimately how your users - are going to bring you future business and are the way forward,” Crewes comments.

Key milestones

One of Crewes’ proudest achievements at P&G was building SK2, a prestige skin brand. It was part of the $80 million Revlon and Max factor acquisition by P&G and what is now considered to be worth US$1.5 billion globally.

The key to the continually fast-building business’ success was transforming the marketing strategy to be able to get up-close-and-personal with the consumer, a select group of people craving unique levels of personalisation.

“It’s one that has focused on delighting very loyal consumers and has a magnificent product portfolio that’s unique in the market,” Crewes says. “SK2 has transitioned from a pretty traditional marketing-led approach to one that’s innovative in being able to reach consumers almost on a one-on-one basis in a very personalised approach.”

While Crewes agrees personalisation is not always a main focus for all brands and that its relevance depends on the type of product, target market sector, and objectives, for SK2, personalisation proved critical.

“Skin care was the number one priority and having impeccable skin care product and also a personalised regimen was critical for our users,” she continues. “It’s one that demanded and commanded a focus on making sure we deliver the right skin care regimen for each and every individual.”

SK2’s personalisation strategy involved a combination of in-store education with counselling, along with online education and various technology tools that were then able to help consumers focus on the right technique at the right time, providing a product regimen suitable for each and every individual.

“With the in-store environment, you’re able to utilise machines and technology that help provide an individual approach to the consumer’s product needs,” Crewes explains. “Once you had the product regimen, we were able to stay in contact and provide ongoing information and provide connectivity with consumers.”

Up next: What Crewes has learnt about connecting with customers

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