​​​​​​​Profile: Charles Daigle, CEO, Propac Agency

Photo by Rex Curry

Charles Daigle first connected with Dallas-based agency Promotional Resources in the 1980s when it was a small shop working with the food service industry. The agency transitioned into traditional retail and changed its name to Promotional Packaging in 1991. When other partners left, Daigle remained and today he is the CEO and founder of the 90-employee Propac Agency.

Looking back, Daigle is perhaps most proud of the early involvement with Walmart at a time when the mass merchandiser was opening 300 to 500 new stores every year. “We were the first agency to do a national brand-opening program for Walmart,” he says.

Daigle first recalls hearing the term “shopper marketing” during this time and credits Walmart for helping bring it into common usage. “Prior to Walmart, the whole grocery segment was very fragmented,” he says. “Walmart began to challenge their vendor community to come up with [shopper] insights. Very quickly their vendor community aligned with that support to win at Walmart. And the rest of the industry followed. And we were right there in the middle of it.”

Walmart continues to be a significant part of Propac Agency’s business, particularly on the Sam’s Club side, Daigle says. The agency led testing and rollout of a scan-and-go program at the cash register and handles meeting planning with the vendor community as well as shopper engagement initiatives, he says. Other accomplishments Daigle cites include transitioning from project-centric work to retainer-type involvement with companies like PepsiCo.

Daigle describes the agency as a “people-first organization,” noting “that’s the product we’re actually selling.” He interviews prospects personally and shares “things about the organization so they understand our background and who we are as a culture,” he says. “It’s important that you’re hiring smart individuals from a range of backgrounds, strengths and perspectives, with a passion to create messaging that connects with people from all walks of life.”

Propac Agency works to ensure that its clients meet shoppers on their terms and capture the greatest sales opportunities, Daigle says. “It’s not just about the shelf,” he says. “It’s about digital and how that’s converging.”

Propac Agency relies heavily on collaboration to service its clients, Daigle says. A project starts with a client service team integrated by channel, whether it’s traditional retail, food service or digital. Within each channel its members are specialized by strategy, communication and creative to provide insights, brand planning and activate the brand presence.

“In the last few years, we as an organization have continued to evolve to meet the demand for the speed of innovation to the shelf,” Daigle says. “What’s really driving this is the competition between Walmart and Amazon. Amazon is hanging its hat on delivery. It’s raising the bar for our clients in the CPG and vendor community to bring innovation from concept to the consumers at lightning speed. Our agency is reflecting that dynamic.”

Clients should judge their agencies based on how well they understand their shoppers, whether they seem grounded in the real world with sound execution plans, and whether they give clients the ability to flex their muscles, Daigle says. “What’s their positioning in a particular market, or category?” he says. “When you’re dealing with an organization like PepsiCo, which has tremendous brand leadership in so many categories, a lot of opportunities come with that.”

Clients need the most help navigating shoppers’ lack of brand loyalty, especially in the digital world, Daigle believes. “Having news is just becoming more critical if they’re going to remain relevant in the shopping experience,” he says. “Amazon can just, with the click of a button, have a new item available to the shoppers. … Agencies are going to have to continue to find ways to be faster and more efficient in order to wow (clients) every day. That’s the challenge for us, to retain our clients.”