Saturday, January 29, 2000

Former P&G president dies


Howard Morgens led explosive growth

BY RANDY TUCKER
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Howard J. Morgens, who served as president and chief executive officer of Procter & Gamble Co. from 1957 to 1974, died Thursday of a heart attack at a hospice in Northern California. He was 89.

        During Mr. Morgens' tenure as head of the Cincinnati packaged-goods titan, P&G's earnings more than quadrupled, defining one of the most aggressive growth periods in the company's history.

        Mr. Morgens led the company into dozens of new brands and product categories, including the launch of Pampers disposable diapers and Downy and Bounce fabric softeners in the early 1960s. He also spearheaded the acquisition of the nation's No. 1 coffee brand, Folgers, in 1963.

        Mr. Morgens also has been credited with continuing the company's global expansion by leading early excursions into western Europe and Japan following World War II.

        “Howard Morgens really created today's P&G through his strategic leadership of much of the company's organizational and product innovation that began following World War II,” said Durk I. Jager, P&G's current chairman, president and chief executive.

        But Mr. Morgens was lauded by his peers for being much more than a savvy business leader.

        During the war, Mr. Morgens, who was then a manager in P&G's advertising deparment, led the development of ads that stressed ways to aid the war effort while still promoting P&G brands.

        Later, he initiated the company's early focus on diversity.

        Such efforts helped Mr. Morgens garner a multitude of honors and awards for his business and civic achievements.

        The citation on one of those awards — the 1975 Applause Award of the Sales Executive Club of New York — read: “Applause to Howard J. Mor gens whose superb leadership of Procter & Gamble has been marked by his vision, concern for human needs, quest for perfection and public service.”

        Mr. Morgens began his career at P&G in 1933 as a salesman after graduating from the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration.

        The following year, he was promoted to the brand-promotion division of the advertising department, where he spent most of the 1940s, becoming vice president of advertising in 1948.

        He was named executive vice president in charge of P&G's U.S. operations in 1954 before succeeding Neil McElroy as president and chief executive.

        As an ad man, Mr. Morgens was instrumental in developing P&G Productions, which produced the soap operas Guiding Light and As the World Turns and other TV programs that became the main advertising vehicles for P&G during the later half of the past century.

        In an interview with the trade publication Advertising Age in 1990, Mr. Morgens said he knew television would revolutionize the advertising industry. But he described the early years of TV advertising as a “learning process.”

        “We were determined to be early in and damned good at television,” he told Ad Age. “We had our first TV program in 1941, I think, to 5,000 television receiving sets in the New York area. It was experimental, but we did it, and we did it fairly fre quently, that early, to learn.”

        Today, TV advertising is the backbone of most new P&G marketing campaigns. It has helped launched dozens of products onto store shelves across the globe and brought a nice return on investment to shareholders.

        Mr. Morgens is survived by his wife, Annie.

        A private funeral ceremony will be held this weekend in California.

        Mr. Morgens' body is to be cremated. His ashes are to be brought to Spring Grove Cemetery in Winton Place later this year, when a memorial service is being planned, a P&G spokesman said.

        The family has asked that memorials be sent to the United Way of Greater Cincinnati and the American Museum of Natural History.

       



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