Unilever's Weed Raises 'Voice,' Explains Bots Don't Eat Mayonnaise

Days after opening the Festival of Creativity in Cannes, France, with news that it was tamping down on its influencer marketing policy, Unilever CMO Keith Weed warned of even greater challenges and unintended consequences from digital marketing platforms likely to come in the next five years.

“Something that will make life a lot more difficult,” Weed said, will be “the whole shift into voice.”

Weed was responding ot a question from “The Power of the Big Tech Platforms” moderator, Zanny Minton Beddoes, Editor-in-Chief of The Economist, who asked her panel to predict how things would change for their businesses in the next five years.

Weed implied the shift to voice interface marketing represents a big challenge for brands that have evolved from the sight, sound and motion milieu of TV advertising, which they've essentially migrated to the Web, social and even mobile interfaces.

“Right now we take this glass and mettle and poke at it,” he said referring to mobile devices, emphasizing that voice interfaces would be a “new shift.

“How do you advertise in a voice environment,” he asked rhetorically, adding, “What does Dove sound like?”

Weed also amplified Unilever’s influencer marketing position, explaining that the goal is to align Unilever’s “value exchange between the influencer, the consumer and the platform.”

“I do think there’s a lot we still need to do,” he said, adding that influencer marketing has become a “big thing” for its brands, but it has discovered that manu influencers are “gaming the system” with fake followers and bots.

“Me paying money for bots is not risk, it’s actually stupid,” Weed said, noting, “Bots don’t eat a lot of Hellman’s mayonnaise.”

Weed said the whole industry -- advertisers, media, platforms -- need to come together to resolve these and other new and unintended issues as the arise.

“If we go through this as an industry we will make the industry fit-for-purpose and these issues will hopefully come to an end,” he said, adding, “We are in a moment in history which is fascinating and exciting, but we need to roll up our sleeves.”

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