Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Unilever readies Lynx Excite launch on iAd (Marketing Week)

The campaign for Unilever’s new Lynx Excite range will launch on Apple’s iAd mobile advertising network, as part of the brand’s strategy to find innovative ways to engage with its audience.

The iAd campaign, created by BBH, launches next week and will be followed by print, TV, digital, gaming and out-of-home advertising and PR, as part of an £8.3m marketing spend. Activity for Lynx Excite builds on the previous Lynx ad theme. Called Falling Angels, it claims the products’ fragrance is “so tempting it will make female angels fall from the sky for it”.

Unilever says it aims to reach iPhone and iPod Touch users with an “immersive iAd experience”. Users can watch the advert, download wallpapers of the Lynx angels and purchase and download the theme tune Sexy Boys from iTunes, all from within their app.

Lynx brand manager Selina Sykes says: “Lynx is always looking for new opportunities to engage with its audience in an innovative and creative way. As the digital age is upon us, iAd is the best platform for us to launch this new variant Excite to reach our target market.” Unilever’s Dove for Men brand was the first consumer goods product to advertise on the iAd platform.

At the time, Unilever CMO Keith Weed said: “Unilever has always been an innovator in advertising. We are now leading marketing into the digital age where the key will be to unlock the potential of mobile.”

Written by Rosie Baker

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Two-way communication channels open all hours (Marketing Week)

Marketing Week joins forces with RAPP, plus international brands Philips and Eurostar, to explore how brands can best use the social media spaceto develop real relationships with real consumers.

The internet, and the explosion of social media networks, mean today’s consumers are always switched on. They are now using their own personal technology to become active advocates - or opponents - of multinational brands.

That means the brands around them have to remain switched on 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, come rain, shine or even (as Eurostar will attest) snow.

Some brands are fearful of this change while others are embracing it. Keith Weed, chief marketing and communications officer at FMCG giant Unilever, has said that given the intense competition between brand owners to connect with customers via digital channels, it will be the innovators that benefit.

The digital edge will be in all areas of digital marketing, social, gaming, search and mobile. And, in fast-growing markets like India and China, mobile penetration will “transform the way companies engage with consumers”, says Weed, with the next 1 billion online users set to come from the mobile market.

Mobile has, without doubt, added fuel to the social media fire. In just three years, the development phase for a new handset has shrunk from 24 months to three. And it will get quicker, says RAPP chief creative officer Rik Haslam.

He also predicts the reach of mobile will extend. The penetration of smartphones in some European countries is already well beyond the 20% tipping point where products and services are deemed mainstream. In Spain, 37% of mobile subscribers now own a smartphone, and in Italy the figure is 33%. The UK’s penetration is 28%, on a par with the rapidly growing US market, according to Nielsen’s Mobile Snapshot report.

As Haslam explains: “The landscape has changed. We are living in a turbulent world. There is turbulence in terms of health, religion, environment, economics and population. But there is also technology turbulence. Never before has technology moved so fast.”

While some brands are embracing the “always on” consumer, many more are stuck at a crossroads. Many have dabbled with digital, but with consumers increasingly connected, are businesses really ready for them? Marketing Week, in association with RAPP, hosted a seminar in London to discuss how brands can embrace the “always on” consumer. Brands Eurostar and Philips joined the panel debate.

Marketing Week (MW): The UK already has more mobiles than people. Just how quickly is the world moving on in terms of technology innovation and social media?

Rik Haslam (RH): In 18 months’ time there will be more smartphones than PCs on the planet. Twenty per cent seems to be the tipping point over which a product or service becomes mainstream and 3G hit that this year. Connectivity, mobility, the war for attention and the boom in social media have brought us to a watershed.

Jon Lee (JL): Consumers have really found their voice through social media. For brands it’s a case of learning how the connected consumer can really help you. However, this new technology is simply facilitating traditional human behaviour on a scale that was previously unimaginable. Connected consumers are a force for good. The challenge is to be creative to help them engage, and then back that up with your messaging.

Gary Raucher (GR): In the past, you could “force” people to watch your ads if you had enough money, but that isn’t true any more. You now need to engage more with the consumer. And that engagement means explaining what’s in it for the consumer. It’s about quality, not quantity.

Emma Harris (EH): I agree, our “exploring is beautiful” campaign this summer saw us launch a social media platform including a competition to join a special “explorer train” for a two-day discovery tour to cities like Lyon and Cologne. To enter, people had to provide a picture of their own exploration trips and the best entries got two seats on the train. The 300 people that we sent on the trip were then asked to blog about it - and they were obsessed with getting the best possible content to give them a chance of winning. The estimated quarterly reach from that 300 people was 250,000.
JL: I think brands need to remain focused on the idea of communicating with people directly. We need to enhance their lifestyle in some way, so it’s not about “doing and saying to [the consumer]” but “doing with and for [the consumer]”. Many brands are realising the value of taking the trusted stranger to the heart of their brand, and then from trusted stranger to networked leader.

GR: We wanted people to experience our great technology, rather than just telling them about it - as we had done in the past with our marketing. We’d identified the cinema space as where we would fit, and wanted to be. It’s one of the most important decisions - defining an engagement platform. You need to find something people will be passionate about. Our Carousel campaign really put us back on the map and in the cinema space [the ad, which depicted a continuous tracking shot of a frozen moment after an armoured van heist had gone wrong, won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions 2009]. But while we had 2.5 million views of the film, we had no way of engaging further. If you like, we’d been on lots of first dates but we were a long way off starting a relationship, and even further from a marriage (see Philips box, page 32).

RH: There’s a new kind of balance to all this. Now that everyone has access to media, things are a little more even - which takes us back to the point that brands need to develop real, long-lasting relationships with customers.

GR: Yes, you’re only as good as your last experience, so you need to take a holistic view. The customer won’t ever feel passionate about your brand if you fail to deliver a consistent experience across all touchpoints. Internally you need to be set up to deliver that. EH: I get asked a lot about social media experience, but perhaps as the person who did it “really badly”. The snow in December last year really caught us short [when our trains lost power in the Channel Tunnel]. We weren’t prepared. But what really caught us by surprise was the fact that passengers used sites like Twitter to tell us what was going on before we knew. In effect, they had turned the communication channel on its head. We no longer had control over the communication lines. I also realised that some people make it their life to attack brands (see Eurostar box below right).

JL: It’s really giving people the chance to reinvent traditional behaviour. About 30% of people will write a review. What’s interesting is that consumers are very philanthropic in their views - they want to help not harm your brand. In fact, only 13% will post bad reviews to take revenge. However, critical reviews can actually add credibility to the [more positive] reviews around them.

EH: They are equally important. In an ideal world, your customers and fans would do your marketing for you, but brands are arrogant if they feel they’re at the centre of people’s thinking that often. Advocacy is, of course, a huge driver of consideration, particularly for brands in the service sector like us where travel is often a discretionary spend. However, to drive major changes in perception or awareness, traditional and wider digital marketing still have a key role.

JL: The average person talks about 70-odd brands a week, and the majority of those communications are positive. But companies are really worried about the minority that are negative - and the ones that appear online. Again, it brings us back to the idea of social media and technology allowing consumers to reinvent traditional behaviour. Many years ago the snake oil salesmen were chased out of town. [People felt] the Gap logo had something of the snake oil about so they ran it out of town.

GR: The role of the brand manager in defining their brand remains - they are the ones that can identify the space they’d like the brand to occupy. What has happened, however, is a seismic shift towards consumers having their own, active voice. That means brands have to be more transparent.

RH: It’s about honesty and value. Those that don’t have those qualities will struggle because for all the doubling of budgets it won’t seem authentic. The world is a transparent place. You need to find the value and express it in the most authentic way you can.

EH: In the aftermath of our snow experience, we had a lot of very angry, very vocal bloggers - where previously people’s experience and trust in us was very high, so it was a long way to fall. US airline Jet Blue had a similar situation with a plane stuck on a frozen runway, and they advised us to take the conversation with the bloggers offline. So we did. But we went further and invited them in to meet the chief executive, among others. That made them feel like they weren’t just commenting into the ether [the likes of “theeurostarfails” blog was removed and now the blogger writes positively about Eurostar]. The role of brand managers is to get close to or ideally ahead of any trends around their audiences, products and markets and to provide solutions and inspiration for their lives.

MW: Given the importance placed on advocacy and what people are saying about your brands, how do you go about tracking opinion?

EH: We track through a number of measures, from traditional satisfaction surveys and brand tracking, to regular social media conversation reports. This provides a broad idea of how your brand is perceived and, most importantly with the large-scale studies, means that the conclusions are statistically relevant. We also speak directly to customers at all points of the journey because it provides valuable feedback. We’ve just introduced a real-time feedback service that allows our customers to text or call us during their experience with us, and get an immediate response.

GR: There are all sorts of studies out there showing how your net promoter score [a management tool used to gauge the loyalty of a brand’s customer relationships] relates to your growth potential. So we’re looking at strategies to drive our score, and one way to do that is to extend the relationship with your customers - in other words to go beyond that first date I was talking about earlier. As the passion and interaction builds between you and the community, you get to go on more dates. Of course, the challenge is to ensure that every interaction is a positive one. The fact the consumer is always on means they can communicate any experience - but the longer the relationships you have, the more chance they will be tolerant of a missed step.

EH: Everything is more immediate and personal now. Sometimes brands need to take a step back to consider the scale of any commentary online and look to other sources of information to see if this is borne out. That said, commentary on social media channels is visible and personal, so it’s essential to listen to those who have taken time to comment online and engage with them. It is a really useful way of getting to know your customer base or potential customers [and also detractors] as people, rather than them existing as anonymous numbers in a survey.

RH: I think the key is always to deliver value back to the customer. People are more willing to give up their data for that [value]. Brands also benefit from making it explicit how they intend to use that data. Of course, you need to remember that [what you do in terms of data gathering] will be a strategic judgement call and differ from territory to territory.

GR: We’ve adopted the controls of the strictest countries across our global network. People will now have to always opt in to receive further contact from us. It’s much better to have fewer, high quality conversations than to message the masses with irrelevant information (see Philips box, far left). No brand wants to be seen as one that spams. The customer’s privacy is paramount and we would never want to cross that line.

Written By David Burrows

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Get with the Weed regime (Marketing Week)

Approaching 100 days into his job as CMO at Unilever, the man Martin Sorrell calls ’visionary’ is already revolutionising the company’s digital, sustainability and communication strategies. MaryLou Costa meets Keith Weed as he maps out the challenges ahead.

Scrutiny of the first 100 days in office doesn’t just apply to the likes of US president Barack Obama. Unilever chief marketing officer Keith Weed is also undergoing his 100-day test, being rigorously assessed not only by his company and department but also by millions of consumers across the world.

“I’m a great believer in the first 100 days in a new job,” reflects Weed, who was appointed in March. “I think you have a certain time to invest in a new job and learn the new landscape. You only get one chance to make a first impression. And you only have one opportunity to look at things with fresh eyes.”

By the end of his first 100 days in his new position, Weed will have completed a baptism of fire – not least because the role of chief marketing officer has evolved to incorporate communications, and an elevated responsibility for the company’s sustainability strategy. Weed is also the first marketer to be appointed to the company’s board.

The Unilever veteran looks remarkably fresh in a sharply cut suit as he eagerly recounts the key events of his first few months: countless calls and meetings to get up to speed on all aspects of the Unilever businesses, visits to North America to meet with the company’s US executives, and an excursion to Silicon Valley and Seattle to meet with the world’s heavyweight technology brands to “explore the mutual agenda we can develop”. And, of course, collecting the Advertiser of the Year gong at the Cannes Lions advertising festival in June, for Unilever’s innovative campaigns such as its Peperami co-creation marketing, which encouraged members of the public to come up with the brand’s next advertising concept.

Weed pushes aside the notion that his packed diary is stretching him too thin. “It has all been completely self-led,” he explains. “The trip to Silicon Valley and Seattle was designed and led by myself, so none of this is accidental.”

Taking a team of Unilever category heads to the American technology hubs to meet with the who’s who of digital innovators – Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Amazon and Apple – marks the beginning of how the “Weed regime”, as WPP chief Sir Martin Sorrell calls it, will differ from how Unilever operated under previous CMO Simon Clift.

Weed says that the company’s digital marketing budget will double this year to put Unilever at the forefront of the digital world. It is this thinking that prompts Sorrell to describe Weed as “engaging, visionary…an ideal client”.

Another key project to support Unilever’s digital revolution is the partnership with film competition board Mofilm, which Weed announced in April. The deal marks a crowdsourcing drive to generate short commercial films for 13 Unilever brands.

The initiative is designed to attract up-and-coming filmmaking talent. Any content produced will be used in an attempt to create brand buzz and consumer engagement through viral videos.
Consumer desire for such engagement is there, Weed claims, revealing that within a week of the initiative being announced, more than 1,000 briefs were downloaded from would-be filmmakers keen to get involved.

“I know everybody has been talking about this digital revolution but I think it is bigger than even the most stretchy visions suggest,” he predicts. “I want to be able to leverage this fantastic revolution to create real engagement with the people who are buying our products, and allow them to help build our brands.”

Building consumer relationships goes beyond just making short films. The importance of entertaining and useful content is recognised by the company as an essential strategy to attract consumers to Unilever brands; part of a strategy embedded by Weed’s predecessor Clift.

“There is a thirst out there for entertainment and content. I don’t think people are happy to sit back and see the world pass in front of them anymore,” Weed claims. “If you look at five years ago, companies like ours would not have had such rich investments in content.” He points to the Flora brand, which is positioned as “the healthy alternative to butter and lard”, as a success story in this area. “We are sharing knowledge with consumers from the thousands of scientists we have working on cholesterol and heart issues.”

While Weed says working with Mofilm is reflective of how the ad world is moving towards content-driven marketing, he is also excited by technology itself. Unilever is one of the first advertisers to launch content on Apple’s new iAd platform.

The company is even investing in quirky technology, such as its ice cream vending machine that requests a user’s smile when they select an ice cream. The smile is then uploaded to Facebook as part of the transaction process in an attempt to share the emotions of buying an ice cream.

While Sorrell asked Weed during Cannes Lions what proportion of Unilever’s entire marketing budget – £4.8bn last year – would be devoted purely to digital this year, Weed would not divulge this commercial secret. He does say, however, that budget allocations will attempt to reflect consumer behaviour in individual markets.

“In the US, where people are spending 25% of their time in some form of digital engagement, then you would be looking at budgets in that order. We would be down to single figures in less developed markets.

“In terms of media choice, we will pick the balance that reflects the task. So it would be incorrect to suddenly put a huge percentage of money towards digital in markets where online use isn’t very developed.”

Weed believes his digital agenda goes hand in hand with his new communications remit, which he describes as a new way of “joined-up thinking”; where all communications, whether marketing or editorially-based, are driven by the same motivations of transparency and consumer benefit.

It is also why Weed believes the company’s sustainability strategy is best overseen by the marketing department (see Q&A, below). In an era of growing consumer expectations, scrutiny, and scepticism of “greenwashing”, joining up marketing and sustainability makes sense so that the overall strategy can be more efficiently communicated and developed, he claims.

Adding such dimensions to the CMO role naturally demands recognition in the boardroom. While Clift’s role before him was noteworthy for being the company’s first full-time CMO, Weed is fortunate in being able to boast he is the first marketer appointed to the Unilever board – a coup for marketers industry-wide, as they fight for more recognition in their organisations.

Weed claims the move reflects the consumer-centric approach that runs right through the company. “Unilever has some really good momentum right now and [chief executive] Paul Polman wants to see us building on that momentum with consumer demand-led growth.
“Being on the board is recognition of the importance of that,” he adds. “So when we come to making investment or strategic decisions, we can orientate that towards the person who is ultimately in charge – the consumer.”

Polman’s own appointment in January last year caused a stir after he became the first Unilever boss to come from “outside the company”. But Weed insists Polman has fitted in well, and his lengthy history with both Unilever rivals Procter & Gamble and NestlĂ© gives his role a healthy external angle.

Weed claims that Polman has given him a warm welcome to the boardroom and he has quickly learnt the value of having such an ally. “The great news for me is that Paul and I are very aligned in how we see business,” he announced in Cannes. “We have a similar mantra of being consumer centric and seeing the importance of consumer demand-led growth. The Unilever vision is to double our business without increasing our environmental footprint and the only way to achieve that is through consumer demand-led growth. Putting the consumer at the heart of everything we do will drive the business forward. Paul recognises that.”

Weed also made sure during his stay in Cannes to praise the work of his predecessor, possibly to distance himself from any notions of trouble in the marketing department before Clift’s departure: “As far as differences between me and Simon, let me declare my interest. Simon is a really good friend of mine and is the godfather of one of my children. He did a great job in setting up the marketing platform that I have now got. But of course there are still big challenges ahead.”

Those challenges aren’t just about navigating the complex world of digital channels. Being the new man in charge carries a certain pressure, he says. “We have some organisational work and new agenda work going on and what I’m seeing around me is a tremendous appetite for this change.”

“When you have a new leader, there are opportunities to reset the rhythms of a business. If you don’t take that first three or four months to set that new rhythm, then everyone will just settle back into the old one. I, as any new leader is, am interested in stepping up performance – where we are now is great but I want us to be even better.”

As for the successful completion of his first 100 days, Weed will not be one to dwell on the nostalgia of their passing. “My mission is to move quickly, set up the agenda now,” he states. “I’m a man in a hurry with a lot to do. The best thing to do in any race is start how you mean to go on.”

Written by MaryLou Costa

Thursday, 8 July 2010

'We will see India engaging through mobile more than the US' (The Economic Times)

He’s the man in the hot seat, literally as well as figuratively. Literally, because the man injured his back the weekend before the Cannes Lions festival, restricting his movement. So the scheduled meeting with Keith Weed, the global chief marketing and communications officer, Unilever, almost fell through at the last minute until it was finally rescheduled with a slightly curtailed time slot allotted for the conversation. But once the talk began, the back pain was forgotten and it was the enormous responsibility that the man shoulders that became the focal point. Weed has recently taken on the all important marketing role at Unilever from Simon Clift. He comes in at a time when the marketplace is in a state of flux. Unilever may still be in the business of selling consumer goods, but the way to go about this has definitely changed.

A global ad spend of over $7 bn in 2009 makes Unilever the second largest advertiser in the world, after P&G. One of the immediate mandates for Weed is to bring a larger marketing focus at Unilever. And so far, Weed is pleased with the progress. “We have good momentum now. In the last quarter, we had 7 % volume growth. Compared to other consumer goods companies globally, that’s very competitive,” says Weed.

He adds that it’s not only the volume growth but also the volume share growth that the company keeps an eye on. “Volume growth means more people are buying our products and volume share means we are growing competitively with more consumers buying our products compared to competition.”

But while growth is relatively robust, an area that needs a much sharper focus at Unilever is digital. Weed says that he took a team of Unilever’s top managers: Category executive VPs from tea, laundry and haircare globally to Silicon Valley in May this year. “I went a day earlier and met venture capitalists like Sequoia Capital and Phoenix Ventures. Then the team came and we met players like Yahoo! and Google. These are players with whom we have a good working relationship,” he states. But what Unilever was looking at through such meetings is a step up, to acquire a true leading edge in the area of digital, says Weed. Engaging with companies at Silicon Valley, he says, “not only gave insights and the opportunities, but also a perspective on the massive shift that’s currently taking place.

And Weed is spending time with the agencies and partners whom he expects to also provide the digital edge in communications. Be it via ‘Share Happy’, a face recognition driven ice cream vending machine or the first ad on iPhone called iAd. Even as Unilever has a roster of agencies, including digital, the question is wouldn’t he want existing agencies to acquire the digital competence rather than have a separate outfit meeting the requirement? “Of course, at the end of the day, I would like our agencies to give us anything we need in the communication space,” he says. “And they will, because that’s their objective as well as ours.” He cites a recent example of one of Unilever’s core agency losing a pitch in the digital area for one of the brands. They were complaining about it, he says. “I told them, if you are mad, I am furious because you have made my life more difficult. Not only do I have to work with you, but now I have to handle the digital agency,” he says. “But we are clear that we want the best and we will work with the best as we have high standards,” he adds. Weed says that he’s driving the business to even higher levels of excellence and if it means working with different agencies, traditional or digital, so be it.

But the expectation from agencies comes as Unilever recently undertook a crowd sourcing experiment. So are agencies in the line of fire with such an initiative? No, says Weed. “We are in the midst of a digital revolution and I see it much bigger than what we perceive it to be,” he states. So when it comes to paid, earned and owned media, Weed says Unilever has a lot of experience. Even in owned media, with and, he says the company has acquired a lot of content through years of research. In the earned media space, particularly in the social media space, consumers are interested in engaging and one way of engaging is getting them to contribute. “So crowd sourcing allows engagement and also gives us access to a whole lot of content,” he says. He adds that some tests have been done based on the content that has emerged on the Surf Excel brand in India and the quality and creativity of the films is impressive. “I don’t see it as a threat or an alternative to agencies. I see it as a source of enriching the agencies, a new way to engage with consumers and a new way to market.”

And innovation targeted at consumers is of critical importance for Weed and Unilever. He says Lord Leverhulme in 1800s may have used phrases like ‘making cleanliness common place’ or ‘to lessen the burden of women’ and they may sound old fashioned but have relevance even today. Weed talks about an innovation in India that Unilever is bringing in for Rin that highlights visible whiteness. “Of course, what’s behind it is great amount of science and patents that we have defended in courts against competition and pushed competitors away. These innovations give us the advantage over competition.”

Weed says markets like India and China are not developing markets but fast-growing dynamic markets. And one needs to segment markets like India and China to understand the opportunities. “India has 500 million mobile users. Right now, globally there 1.4 bn people using the net and 4 billion mobile phones globally, half a billion from India. So clearly, the next billon online users will come from the mobile markets.” So there are real opportunities of using digital in emerging markets, he says. “While we might not have high internet penetration in India compared to the US, where 25% of media time is spent online, mobile will unlock that. We will see India engaging through mobile more than the US,” he adds. Rest assured Weed will ensure Unilever is ready to ride the wave.

Written by Rajiv Banerjee, ET Bureau

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Keith Weed at Cannes: 'Unilever Will Increase Digital Investment' (AdvertisingAge)

Marketing Chief Explains How He's Keeping Up With 2 Billion Consumers Without Running Ahead of Them

CANNES, FRANCE -- Unilever is doubling its digital investment this year, and part of the impetus behind that has been Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Keith Weed getting 30 of the company's line managers to join him on a trip to Silicon Valley earlier this year to put together deals such as the company's recently announced charter sponsorship on Apple's iAd platform.

In an interview during the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, Mr. Weed acknowledged there's a risk in "getting ahead of consumers," as he describes some of Unilever's efforts. But he likens investments in emerging media to those in upstream product development -- a necessary outlay to ensure long-term growth.

Traditionally, funding for marketing innovation tends to get cut, not increased, during hard times, and it has sometimes spawned resentment when forced on line managers. But Mr. Weed said support from Unilever CEO Paul Polman for the effort has been key to making it work.
That support for exploring emerging marketing practices will help prevent the sorts of retrenchment in experimental spending that has afflicted companies in the past, Mr. Weed said. And he noted that digital investment dovetails with another of his charges, developing the Unilever corporate brand.

Ad Age: You've said you're going to double digital spending this year, which is really very ambitious. Why?

Mr. Weed: At the end of the day we are a mass marketer. Every day, 2 billion people use our products. So what dictates what we do is those consumers, and I want to be where consumers are. The truth of the matter is we're seeing this huge migration across the world to digital. We need to be ahead of the consumer, so when the consumer arrives, we're already there.

Ad Age: Is it hard to find a place in digital to spend all that money?

Mr. Weed: "Digital" itself as a catch-all [word] is as unhelpful as "advertising" was when it describes TV, cinema, poster, painting your brand on the side of the house. I look at our investment in the buckets of paid, owned and earned. [Our investment in owned] is the smallest part. The biggest part is going to be in earned, and there are going to be two parts. One is the social area, but also moving into digital and gaming.

In digital, we've had a runaway success for the Axe wake-up call in India [putting a ring tone into alarms on mobile devices.] Lipton in China also did a thing around the New Year where you upload a photo and put little crosses where your eye and mouth were and then with the wonders of technology, you superimpose your face on the bodies of people doing a music video. This went to over 100 million people.

On the social side, we've agreed to a step-change increase in our spend with Facebook. I've just been spending some time with people from Microsoft. We've also signed with Apple on the iAd.

Ad Age: Is there a risk when you try to get ahead of the consumer that you leave consumers behind?

Mr. Weed: Yes, and that's why you ask the question. And that's why I'm splitting what I call the advertising R&D [from other spending]. In products we have the things applying the science of today, and then the exploratory research where we're trying to come up with new molecules, etc. I'm trying to get that same kind of division in advertising so we're clear in what we're doing.
So [at Cannes] you'll see a vending machine for ice cream that's fully interactive with technology that would have required NASA to do it 10 years ago. You look at it, and if you smile, you get a free ice cream. As of this morning, we've given out 6,000 ice creams. But we're scaling it, putting these machines in, and it's connected directly to a Facebook application.

If I can get the right balance of spending for what's next, along with the appropriate part of "D" spending with the consumer, then we'll get it. IAd is a perfect example. We've got a significant spend, but what it means is that we're in Apple with their engineers. Eventually they'll have production pods that they can give to advertising agencies to do it, but right now we're not at that stage.

When you see this, you realize mobile is big. When you see the interactive nature of the ads you can get on the iPhone, you can get with iAd, oh my God, it's like someone reinvented TV. It's as big as that. It's going to be massive.

Ad Age: Traditionally, that experimental spending has been a tough thing. It can get cut when times are tough, and the guy associated with it can become unpopular. How do prevent that from happening?

Mr. Weed: I'm 80 days into my job, so you have to see it through that lens. But the great news is that [Unilever CEO Paul Polman] and I think incredibly alike. Now, you could argue that's why he gave you the job, because you tend to agree with people who think like you.
I'm passionate about Unilever being consumer-centric. As far as I'm concerned, everything starts and everything ends with the consumer.

So when I'm engaging with Paul on what I want to do in the marketing area, I would say he has been nothing but supportive and encouraging. Right from day one when I wanted to make some changes, he said, "Great, get on with it." We need more bosses like that in the world.
Ad Age: One of your big competitors, P&G, did a big corporate branding program around the Winter Olympics for which they have some short-listed work at Cannes. Do you expect Unilever will do something similar?

Mr. Weed: We've been moving in this direction for a while. Five years ago, we started the One Unilever program. What it also did, which had a lot of cultural impact, was that it meant everybody worked for Unilever, [instead of years ago] these tribes within tribes.
The second thing that really explodes it is the internet. No longer can you really compartmentalize communication. One of the big changes in my role from my predecessor is that I'm chief marketing and communications officer, so I have internal and external communications reporting to me.

We've done a lot of work on piloting the Unilever brand overtly to consumers. We've picked three markets to do that: The U.K., the Netherlands -- neither of those should be a surprise, being an Anglo-Dutch company -- and Brazil to have a developing and emerging market example as well. And we've been running that for an extended period [with], I would have to say, very positive results.

People more and more want to know the company behind the brands that they're buying. Once people know those individual brands come from Unilever in those countries, the [favorability] scores go up.

Written by Jack Neff

Friday, 25 June 2010

Unilever to double digital spend - Keith Weed, CMO and Sir Martin Sorrell in debate (Marketing Week)

CANNES: Unilever is to double its digital spend next year, according to its chief marketing officer Keith Weed, who was speaking today at the Cannes Lions Advertising Festival, in a debate with WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell.

The pair argued over the use of social media.

Weed says the company’s decision to innovate is digital is as a result of “needing to fish where the fish are, not because they love digital”.

Sorrell and Weed clashed briefly over social media when the WPP chief stated that “traditional media is still the best way to build brands, and online about promotional”.

Sorrell suggested that social media are “the modern form of letter writing in many senses. it’s basically an editorial mechanism” and asked: “Should we keep it pure?”

Weed argued: “The idea that brands are going to pollute Facebook is not true at all. The challenge is finding a business model that extracts value.” He continued: “[Facebook etc] are running businesses. They will and they must [monetise them]. I think they will.” He added: “Social media is like word-of-mouth on steroids.”

Weed quipped: “Digital marketing is like high school sex: everyone is talking about it, few people are doing it and most are not doing it very well.”

Sorrell stated that research shows traditional media is still best for brand building but Weed pointed out that “brands are being built when consumers engage online”.

Weed stated that it is Unilever’s objective is to double growth whilst reducing environmental footprint and said: “Digitisation and globalisation feed off each other creating exponential impact,” and added: “The more digital you are, the more global you can become.

The more global you are, the more digital you can become. You have to be ahead of your consumers in digital, you cannot be at the same level as them”.

Written by Pitch Reporters

Friday, 26 March 2010

Unilever to Test Mobile Coupons (; Andrew Lavallee)

In Trial at Supermarket, Cellphones Will Be the Medium for Discount Offers

Seeking to marry a ubiquitous device with a time-tested marketing technique in a sour economy, Unilever plans to begin a trial run Sunday of a new technology that lets consumers redeem digital coupons by having a supermarket cashier scan their cellphones.

The test, being conducted at a ShopRite store in Hillsborough, N.J., will include discount offers for some of the Anglo-Dutch packaged-goods company's most popular brands, including Breyers ice cream, Dove soap, Hellmann's mayonnaise and Lipton tea. Samplesaint, a Chicago mobile-technology firm, developed the system.

"This has been a Holy Grail thing that people have been trying to figure out," says Marc Shaw, director of integrated marketing at Unilever, the first major marketer to test such a service in the U.S. "I think this is on target for where consumers' heads are at right now."

To get the coupons, customers must visit the Web site, from which they can transmit the Unilever discount offers to an Internet-enabled cellphone. At checkout, the cashier scans the bar code on the phone's screen, redeeming the coupon and deleting it from the phone. The test will run for four weeks, and Mr. Shaw says he hopes to see it extended to other stores after that.

Mobile coupons have been an area of growing interest for marketers, though the growth of overall spending on mobile advertising has been slowing down. Research firm eMarketer expects U.S. mobile-ad spending to grow 17% this year, less than half of last year's 35% gain.

Supermarkets, packed with hundreds of brand names vying for attention, are an important venue for coupon providers. In an April study, Icom, a division of Epsilon Data Management, said 87% of survey respondents who had used coupons in the past month redeemed them at grocery stores, compared with 47% at restaurants and 41% at department stores. Earlier this month, Randalls Food Markets, a unit of grocery giant Safeway, announced a coupon initiative with technology providers Cellfire and that links discount offers to customers' loyalty cards.

But technological hurdles remain. Many coupons offered on the Web are printable but can't be transferred to a mobile device. And many cellphone-based coupons require the cashier to enter a code shown on-screen. Manual entry can slow down the checkout process, a big disadvantage in low-margin, high-volume retail businesses.

"We're still in an attempt-and-learn phase" in mobile couponing, says Andy Murray, chief executive of in-store-marketing agency Saatchi & Saatchi X, part of Publicis Groupe. Mr. Murray is skeptical that shoppers will load coupons onto their phones before making grocery runs, and he says finding, presenting and redeeming the coupons could prove to be a hassle for some. "Shoppers have a time budget, a money budget and a frustration budget," he says.

The potential for entry errors and other glitches has kept some big companies from trying the format, says Landy Ung, founder of 8coupons, which provides online coupons for the New York market. Steven Boal, CEO of printable-coupon site, says checkout with a mobile coupon is "fraught with peril," ranging from incompatible devices to software bugs to phones that get dropped while being passed back and forth. In addition, many retail scanners can't penetrate a cellphone screen to read the coupon.

Lawrence Griffith, CEO of Samplesaint, says his company's technology has solved most of those problems, and is expected to greatly reduce coupon fraud, since coupons will vanish from the cellphone after redemption and can't be forwarded or emailed. "We have full control," he says.
Unilever's Mr. Shaw says putting marketing offers on a phone ties brands to a personal device that people tend to keep with them at all times. "The cellphone is the thing that when you leave it behind at home, you go back and get it. It's the organizer of our lives," he says.

American consumers have been heavy users of coupons amid the recession, and online-coupon providers have seen traffic and usage grow this year. Mr. Boal says is developing a mobile platform it will launch in the third quarter, while 8coupons, currently focused on the New York market, will add Washington this summer, followed by Boston, Chicago and San Francisco in coming months, Ms. Ung says.

Because consumers can select the online coupon they want, the offers have far higher redemption rates than those in newspaper inserts and other ads. Cellfire typically sees redemption rates in the mid-teen percentages, says CEO Brent Dusing. Icom and others in the industry estimate the average redemption rate for traditional coupons is less than 1%.
Unilever isn't abandoning traditional print coupons, or even other online partnerships, like one it has with Cellfire. "It's just another way to do this," Mr. Shaw says. "We want to be out there with as much variety as we can."

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Star Magazine Teams with Unilever to Launch iPhone App (; Laura Kenney)

Hot Tip! The iPhone App store is about to get a little juicier in the celebrity gossip section.

Star Magazine has partnered with Unilever to launch their new iPhone App for free, beginning in early April. Delivering its news to readers in the simple, list format that works so well on the iPhone, Star will package their breaking celebrity scoops, exclusive photos and fun pop culture factoids into iPhone format.

For the launch, Unilever will be sponsoring three different sections of the App with three of its brands: Suave Body Care's Mango Mandarin Body Wash launch, Degree Ultra Clear anti-perspirant and deodorant, and I Can't Believe it's Not Butter spread. For the Suave promotion, users will be able to share what's making them feel "blissful," and their messages will be geofiltered to see who else is sharing in the area.

They can also vote on whether a celebrity photo is "blissful or not," and the chosen photos will receive a special pink wrapper to promote their status. Fans will also find beauty tips, along with fragrance information on the the new Mango Mandarin Body Wash, which has an eau that Suave says women prefer over Bath & Body Works' popular Mango Mandarin scent.Degree Ultra Clear will sponsor a section on red carpet looks, and A-List approved health tips will be the focus of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter. The app will be available in early April.

To get it when it becomes available, visit the App Store on your iPhone and search for Star-Mobile, or text iStar to 99799.

Keith Weed nets new CMO role at Unilever (Marketing Week, Rosie Baker)

Expanded role now includes control over communications, with a place on the board.

Unilever has promoted Keith Weed, head of global homecare, oral care and water, to chief marketing and communications officer.

He takes up some of the responsibilities handled by Simon Clift, who revealed in February that he was leaving the company after 30 years to spend more time with his family.

Weed has been given the additional responsibility of overseeing communications and he will take a seat on the Unilever board. He will report directly to chief executive Paul Polman.

Polman says: “This is the first time Unilever has had a CMO at the top table and is a key step to having a sharper consumer focus in the company.”

A Unilever spokesperson adds that it made “strategic sense to put marketing and communications together” and “give both functions a voice on the executive board”.
Former Lever Brothers chairman Andrew Seth says Weed is well placed for the role because he knows the business well and turned around Unilever’s laundry business.

Seth, now chairman of consultancy Brand Intellect, says the appointment of a CMO from within the company is a mark of Unilever’s skill at training and developing marketers with a broad experience across the business.

However, Zaid Al-Zaidy, former Unilever innovation manager for Axe and now managing partner at digital agency Saint, says that while it is important to have a CMO, “marketing happens at such a personal level in the digital age, and how can a CMO deliver that from above?”
Unilever spent £5.3bn (£4.8bn) on advertising and promotions in 2009, up £250m (£225m) on the previous year, and has revealed plans to recruit 30 marketers to enhance its marketing capabilities.

Unilever Names Keith Weed CMO (AdWeed, Andrew McMains)

Unilever has filled its top global marketing position with insider Keith Weed, and has expanded the role to include communications.

Weed (pictured), 48, also will take a seat on Unilever's executive board, which is made up of top management within the company. As a result, the board will expand from nine to 10 members, according to a company representative.

Previously, Weed was an executive vice president in charge of home care, oral care and water brands. Effective April 1, he becomes chief marketing and communications officer, reporting to worldwide CEO Paul Polman. Weed succeeds Simon Clift, who as CMO also reported to Polman but didn't sit on the executive board. (See also: "Shops Contemplate Life Without Simon.")

"This is the first time Unilever has had a CMO at the top table and is a key step to having sharper consumer focus in the company," Polman said, in a statement.

Weed held his evp role for about three years. Unilever has identified his successor in that post but has yet to publicly name the executive.

As chief marketing and communications officer, Weed will oversee execs in charge of media services, consumer insights, research, agency relationships and Unilever's internal marketing academy.

Clift had been CMO since 2005, when he assumed the dual role of CMO and group vice president for personal care. He shed the personal care post in 2008. His exit marks the end of his 28-year career at the consumer packaged goods giant.

Unilever, whose global revenue totaled about $57 billion last year, is among the biggest advertising spenders worldwide. In the U.S alone last year, Unilever spent nearly $715 million in major measured media, up from $635 million in 2008, according to Nielsen. Those figures don't include online spending.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Unilever names Keith Weed as CMO (Marketing Week)

Unilever has appointed head of global homecare, oral care and water Keith Weed as chief marketing and communications officer.

He takes up the responsibilites of Simon Clift, who is stepping down, and has added communications to the role.

Weed will take up his new role on 1 April 2010 and will be a member of the Unilever Executive, reporting to chief executive Paul Polman.