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Cover Story: Parry and Advance

By: Karen A. Newman
Posted: December 10, 2007, from the December 2007 issue of GCI Magazine.

page 5 of 6

On June 8, 2007, P&G released news that it was looking back to its earliest days with the launch of the Febreze Candle. Candles developed by William Procter in 1835 were the first items the company sold, but thanks to advances in gas and electric lighting, candle sales ended in 1920. With the launch of the Febreze Candle, the consumer goods giant was going back to its roots while broadly moving forward with a product that fulfilltoday’s consumer demand for odor elimination with scent. “The Febreze brand is a pioneer in odor elimination technology, going back to when we launched Febreze as the first fabric refresher in 1997,” said Jorge S. Mesquita, president, global home care and P&G professional, in announcing the launch. “We felt that it was only natural that an odor-eliminating candle be developed for Febreze, given the brand’s heritage. The Febreze Candle goes a step beyond a traditional scented candle because it does more than just scent a room; it removes unpleasant odors, helping to create a pleasing, relaxing environment.”

When the candle launched, a blogger wrote that the line extension is “about ‘lifestyle’ branding rather than being tied specifically to the product.” He also blogged that this was an important and needed move that will give P&G more branding opportunities. Hettich suggests the candle was less a necessity than a foregone conclusion. “Is it a necessary move? Consumers were literally telling us ‘Are you coming out with a Febreze candle?’ and ‘A candle would be a good idea,’” says Hettich. “We came with a mystery box, and buyers were guessing that it was a candle. You could say the candle was by popular demand.”

Of course, this was no ordinary candle. It is a great example of what Hettich does so well. It reflects a relatively short time from idea to market. For the home care category, he organized a team that focuses only on new-to-the-world products—a very lean team of a few individuals who made the connection that odor elimination from a candle was a concept that should be put to the test. From this idea, the Febreze Candle was born. “It offered the right ‘size of prize,’” says Hettich. The team relied on individuals who could find suppliers quickly, a design manager was put in place and the team ran with the concept.

Celebrate Learning

The other thing about Hettich, says Holthouse, is that he is a great leader and champion for the team. “He has created a very unique and positive culture as it relates to Febreze.” It is the culture of a learning organization.“We stress not just what we don’t know but what we need to know,” says Hettich, proudly stating that “in all functions, the learning culture is very strong.” He also believes in the company within a company approach. “At the Febreze ‘company,’ we share successes, celebrate learning and have fun together, shedding the disadvantages of being in a very big company and acting like a small, nimble company.”

Next Moves

“In this business, what keeps me excited is working with customers and designers to really make an impact,” says Hettich, claiming that he still has the same energy level he had when he started with the company 17 years earlier.