Stengel, who spent over two decades at the consumer package behemoth, gained his influence and street cred by using his $8 billion ad budget to earn numerous “Marketer of the Year” accolades, along with twenty-five straight stellar quarters. Last year, after taking home Cannes “2008 Advertiser of the Year” award for the first time, Stengel says he realized he was ready for the next chapter of his career. “I had done everything I had wanted to do,” he told me, “It was time for me to hand the role off to someone else and pursue another dream.”
The dream, these days, goes beyond Pringles and Pampers. He’s now consulting for tech and healthcare companies, neither of which he can specifically name. Stengel’s new platform is all about forcing marketers to face their existential crisis head-on (“I want to inspire a movement,” he says). He believes every brand needs to hold itself hostage its core mission, starting with employees that believe in it, then products that live it–which is what ultimately seduces customers.
While none of this is exactly new marketing enlightenment, I have no doubt any brand will fork over the big bucks to get some of Stengel’s special sauce, if not his cache. And for those who can’t afford the marketing missionary in person, don’t worry–he’s shopping around a book that’s in the works for next year. “I don’t like business books. I think they’re shallow and not helpful,” admits Stengel, who’s already starting to tap his vast network, like TBWA’s Lee Clow, to produce a more 2.0 kind of read. “For my book, the whole interactive element of the content will make or break it.”