Procter & Gamble shows up in force at Lions Health, serving notice to consumer health rivals

Gayle King, Marc Pritchard, Ashley Miles and Bozoma St. John talk P&G brands and mental health push. (Bulik)(Beth Snyder Bulik)

CANNES, France—Procter & Gamble has shown up for Cannes Lions Health. The consumer packaged goods giant, which recently bought Merck KGaA’s consumer health division and rebranded it as P&G Health, is everywhere here, serving notice—at least to consumer healthcare companies—that it’s in play.

P&G hit the stages with several presentations, brought teams of brand managers and filled the Health Palais lobby with innovative concept demos.

Plus, its Monday panel discussion ranked as one of the most celeb-splashiest of the day, moderated by CBS This Morning TV host Gayle King and featuring P&G chief brand officer Marc Pritchard, well-known brand executive Bozoma St. John with William Morris’ Endeavor, and Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global.

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Huffington appeared on video to talk about Thrive's partnership with P&G, explaining she could not attend because she's recovering from hip replacement surgery and not allowed to fly.

On stage, Pritchard and Thrive Global chief business officer Ashley Miles debuted a collaboration with six P&G brands—Crest, Oral-B, Pampers, Venus, Secret and Pantene—to help consumers boost their mental health and wellness. The initiative encourages consumers to integrate mindfulness practices into their everyday habits.

For instance, in a Pampers campaign just launched around Father’s Day, dads are encouraged to sing to their babies every time they change a diaper. With Pantene, the push will be to repeat a personal mantra while washing your hair—Miles revealed that hers is “I am enough.”

“We’ve joined forces to take Thrive’s purpose, which is to end the stress and burnout epidemic, with our purpose, which is to make everyone’s life better through everyday personal care and healthcare products, and combine them into habit-stacking to make life better,” Pritchard said.

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Habit-stacking refers to stacking a new healthy habit on top of an existing habit to help make it stick, Miles explained.

St. John, former chief brand officer at Uber, is involved in the Secret “All Strength No Sweat” campaign. The idea is that every time a person uses deodorant, generally a mindless habit, they are encouraged to think about the one thing they want to do that day and crush it, she said.

P&G’s $4.2 billion buyout of Merck KGaA’s consumer division in 2018 came shortly after it ended a seven-year joint venture with Teva called PGT Healthcare. At the time, P&G said the Merck deal replaced and improved upon the Teva deal.