Unilever's Weed To Agencies, Suppliers: Work 110% For Our Brands, Not Your Specialty


CANNES, FRANCE -- Global packaged goods marketer Unilever is midway through a mission to transform its marketing -- shifting from “marketing to people” to “marketing with people” and ultimately to “marketing for people” -- and it is calling on its agency and media supplier partners to help with that transformation, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer Keith Weed said during a presentation to delegates at the Lions Festival here this morning.

Weed said Unilever is purposely using the term “people” and “not consumers” as part of its shift from targeting to serving the people who consume its brands.

He cited three areas of immediate focus for the company to make the transition, including:

* A need to simplify the matrix of “mobile, social and data.”

* Unlocking, recruiting and rewarding the best creative talent to help communicate Unilever’s brand messages to people.

* “Scaling up,” which Weed described as marketing that “leads as brands, not as channels.”

To that latter point, Weed showed a case study of Unilever’s “Project Sunlight” campaign, which embodies Unilever’s corporate mission of helping to build a more sustainable future. He noted that the campaign was executed by 12 disparate agency and media partners, which made it a complex integration task to orchestrate.

One of the problems with the approach, he said, is that while “specialty” agencies or media partners collaborate well in terms of the overall integration, their focus is on making the greatest impact with their area of specialty.

“What I want is a 110% solution for the brand, even if it is an 85% solution for mobile and a 95% solution for social,” he said, after noting that the specialists are prone to trying to achieve a “110% solution” for their specialty.

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3 comments about "Unilever's Weed To Agencies, Suppliers: Work 110% For Our Brands, Not Your Specialty".
  1. Henry Blaufox from DragonSearch , June 19, 2014 at 11:01 a.m.
    Noteworthy that Weed explains twelve different agencies and other partners were involved in execution of the Unilever campaign he used as his example. Someone has to be in charge overall to keep all parties rowing in the same direction, focused on the overall goal. Otherwise it is natural for specialists to focus on the techniques they know best, and for which they are responsible within the campaign, rather than their defined role in achieving the overall business goal. In fact, was this defined at the outset, and was someone designated as program manager with the authority to make this happen?
  2. Tom Goodwin from Tomorrow , June 19, 2014 at noon
    I think he's saying what everyone has been saying since about 1998. Every three years we've gone from talking about "integrated media planning" to "connections planning" to "integrated campaigns", to "holistic campaigns" and now we're talking about the same but with slightly different words. He's not wrong, but let's not think this is much more than what should be common sense to a CMO.
  3. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc , June 19, 2014 at 3:31 p.m.
    Whenever an Advertiser bigwig has to make a "big" speech the tendency is to trot out the same old boring and oft-used pitch for a better effort by the agencies and for the media to become "partners" in driving sales. As for "integrating" the various aspects of marketing communication----agency creative and product positioning skills, media planning and buying, promotional efforts, etc. Sounds like a good idea. Has Unilever done it? If not, why not?