Remember when Procter & Gamble started lecturing freedom-loving American razor consumers about their alleged “toxic masculinity”? Turns out the company has been getting closer than a Gillette shave with an organization backed by the toxic men who run the Chinese dictatorship.
The Journal’s Sharon Terlep, Tim Higgins and Patience Haggin report:
Procter & Gamble Co. participated in testing an advertising technique being developed in China to gather iPhone data for targeted ads, a step intended to give companies a way around Apple Inc.’s new privacy tools, according to people familiar with the matter…
The company has joined forces with dozens of Chinese trade groups and tech firms working with the state-backed China Advertising Association to develop the new technique, which would use technology called device fingerprinting, the people said. Dubbed CAID, the advertising method is being tested through apps and gathers iPhone user data to serve up targeted ads.
P&G CEO David Taylor has been an enthusiastic promoter of the idea that instead of focusing on serving shareholders, a corporation like P&G should answer to a vaguely defined universe of “stakeholders” who often have no stake in the business. But even people drawn to the fuzzy “stakeholder” concept may not have realized just how broad this universe could be. The Journal has more on the company’s work with the regime-backed organization in China:
P&G, whose involvement hasn’t been previously reported, said in a statement that it is providing input to the trade group consistent with the company’s goal of finding ways to “deliver useful content consumers want in a way that prioritizes data privacy, transparency and consent. That means partnering with platforms and publishers—both directly and through our advertising associations across the globe,” it said.
The company declined to provide additional details about the program, including whether it intends to use the technology.
Data privacy, transparency and consent are not the first words that come to mind when one thinks of markets overseen by the Chinese Communist Party. But instead of making broad generalizations about P&G’s motives that may be as unfair as the ones P&G has made about U.S. men, let’s be fair and careful consumers as we evaluate its China business. This column doesn’t think Apple’s new privacy standards are necessarily the right approach either and may simply be crafted to align with its business model. Even in 2021, shareholders still count!
As for Procter & Gamble, Mr. Taylor explained in 2019 at a World Economic Forum panel in Davos, Switzerland: