Procter & Gamble Company grew into the dominant entity it is today under the leadership of Smale, moving from the 23rd largest U.S. industrial company to the 15th during his nine years at the helm. He is credited with establishing P&G as a leader in the health care and beauty care areas and for expanding the business into Asia and Latin America. He accomplished this, in part, by recognizing the power of advertising, tripling the company’s media spending until it approached the $2 billion level.
In one groundbreaking advertising coup, Smale headed a team that convinced the American Dental Association (ADA) of Crest toothpaste’s fluoride-based anti-cavity benefits. This led to the ADA awarding the toothpaste its first seal of approval and the famous "Look Ma, no cavities!" ad campaign. Starting as a P&G assistant brand manager in 1952, Smale’s innovative ideas propelled him quickly through the ranks, and he became CEO in 1981. He remained dedicated to advertising as a way to establish brand dominance throughout his tenure.
Smale has been active in many areas outside of advertising, donating his time and talent to aid cities in crisis as well as preserving and maintaining our country’s wilderness. At the request of Cincinnati’s mayor, he headed a commission in 1986 to make recommendations on the city’s declining municipal infrastructure. His efforts led to the restoration of Cincinnati’s streets, bridges and parks. He served for 10 years on the board of governors of The Nature Conservancy and led the development of an ad campaign announcing the organization’s "Save the Last Great Places on Earth" project.
Retiring from P&G in 1990, Smale ended his career as director and chairman of the board of General Motors. There, his commitment and belief in advertising and brand management stayed constant and strong, and led to the establishment of a brand management structure at General Motors.