Unilever Brings Video Messaging In-House With Flix

Video has become the tool of choice for companies to communicate marketing messages to consumers. Unilever, the maker of iconic brands such as Dove and Axe, reported Monday licensing Flix Publisher from On2 Technologies, a Tarrytown, N.Y. company known for its video encoding tools, to bring its outbound messaging in-house.

On2 Flix Publisher becomes the video piece to Unilever's repository that will likely hold company information on products and services created by C-level executives, marketers, and others from across the company to keep all employees informed. The tool makes creating and uploading videos to company servers easy, and provides a video messaging delivery service to Unilever's 179,000 employees worldwide.

The browser-based encoding and publishing tool for Adobe Flash Player 8 and 9, relies on On2's VP6 video compression schemes licensed by Adobe. Publisher allows easy drag-and-drop video creation and publishing on a Web page, without special software installation on the user's PC. This allows even those who are technologically challenged to publish videos without special training or equipment. On2 Flix Publisher also is available from cellular phones.



The deal was initiated by Unilever's Global Information Technology IT team in Milan, Italy, which reports into the company's global marketing department. The platform aims to help employees manage company information in what On2 Technologies calls a "knowledge management system"--a destination on a server where companies can store internal videos and PowerPoint presentations.

Unilever took a leading step in the shift toward internal video communications that many companies will make during the next two years, says Bill Joll, president and CEO at On2 Technologies. "Our products are not just tied to the user-generated video phenomena," he says. "Now, you're seeing enterprises start to embrace video on the Net."

The transition represents a trend toward video as an internal marketing tool for newsletters and announcements, as well as a method for consumer products goods companies to get brands closer to consumers. Aside from Unilever, major oil and automotive companies are looking to create a similar internal video support system to give all employees access to information.

Enterprises like Unilever are adding video to more internal communications, from training to marketing, says Forrester Research Analyst Shar VanBoskirk. "Brand marketers find online video appealing because it's easier to absorb and learn how to use," she says. "Online videos work well for training materials, communicating more personal messages from the CEO, or instructional videos that help you understand how to use the new X-Y-Z internal system."

But Unilever's news comes on the heels of the consumer products goods company taking heat from its treatment of women in video ads. The company now faces allegations of operating on double standards, as it continues its strategy of tapping the Internet to market positive messages to consumers. The backlash comes from European consumers and organizations that aim to protect children, according to a recent U.K.-edition Times Online article. Unilever was not available for comment.

In an Internet guerrilla attack, a video reportedly created by The Martin Agency's Rye Clifton edits material from other Unilever advertisements to highlight what he calls the company's conflicting message: "Talk to your daughter before Unilever does." It is a response to "Onslaught," a video Unilever created to post online that features a preteen girl on her way to school. Her innocent face transforms into a cascade of chilling images from cosmetic surgery to obsessive dieting to anorexic models covered in make-up. The final frame reads: "Talk to your daughter before the beauty industry does."

With more video coming online, both for internal and external use, it's unclear how companies will protect their brands against creative video editors like Clifton.

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