Monday, 19 December 2011

Review of the Year: Top 10 marketing moments of 2011 (Marketing, by Nicola Clark)

Marketers had reason to be concerned as the New Year arrived, but despite continued economic uncertainty, 2011 delivered marketing milestones in droves, writes Nicola Clark.

A year of volatile stock markets, slipping consumer confidence, depressed marketing budgets and ever-gloomier forecasts presented a headache for Britain's marketers. However, as 2011 has proved, a faltering economy does not equate to a dearth of ideas among marketers. The past 12 months have provided an array of triumphs for the industry; here are just a few.

No country does pomp and ceremony quite like Britain. As Kate Middleton unveiled her intricately designed Sarah Burton creation, Brand Britain received its biggest boost in years. Even hardened republicans struggled to resist the opportunity for a good old-fashioned knees-up. With the Queen's golden jubilee and the Olympic and Paralympic Games on the horizon in 2012, the opportunities for brands such as Hovis and John Smith's to capitalise on their British heritage are phenomenal.

When The Sunday Times Style magazine starts printing festive features extolling the virtues of Secret Santa and festive belt-tightening, it is clear that brands need to tread carefully.
As many consumers face up to a decline in their earnings, limited job security and continued economic uncertainty, John Lewis and its advertising agency Adam & Eve's beautifully crafted TV ad, celebrating the joy of giving Christmas presents, hit the right note.

The axe finally fell on the 65-year-old Central Office of Information (COI) this year when Francis Maude, the minister for the Cabinet Office, approved a plan to close the organisation as part of a drive to cut government communications costs. A mere 20 COI staff will be moved to the Cabinet Office next year, while the others will be redeployed elsewhere or made redundant. The process is due to be completed by April 2012. As Marketing went to press, Jenny Grey, the director of policy and communications for the Cabinet Office, was acting as the executive director of government communications. Grey's remit is to manage the redundancy process of the remaining 400 staff. It is a sad and ignoble end for an organisation which only a few years ago employed more than 700 people and ably demonstrated how marketing could be used as a force for good.

Google and Facebook's rivalry is one of the biggest marketing battles of recent times, as the pair compete for advertising investment and consumers' attention. With Facebook accounting for an increasing amount of time spent by people on the web, Google is prioritising its social strategy. In June came the long-awaited unveiling of Google+, its social network and answer to the strengthening market- ing muscle of Facebook. In November, Google launched its first feature for brands, Google+ Pages, its first large-scale attempt to promote the fledgling network to marketers. Burberry and Pepsi are among the big-name brands to have signed up to the service so far.

Last year Pepsi sent shockwaves through the marketing community when it decided to ditch its flagship Super Bowl spot in favour of digital media. The brand said it was creating a 'movement not a moment'. While curmudgeonly marketing professors may have dismissed the strategy, Pepsi has continued to drive the marketing innovation agenda. Now, through its sponsorship of The X Factor USA, the soft-drinks manufacturer is returning to Super Bowl advertising with a spot that will star the show's winner. The news comes as The X Factor USA has made the bold decision to allow voting via Twitter and Facebook, potentially cannibalising its revenues from phone votes. By harnessing the buzz around the show, PepsiCo is well-placed to deliver a truly 'super-social' Super Bowl strategy, suggesting that its focus on social media is here to stay.

Amazon's long-awaited answer to the iPad, the Kindle Fire, is set to be the most serious challenge yet to Apple's dominance in the tablet market. The device, which began selling in the US for $199 (£128) last month, is significantly undercutting the iPad. Launching the device, Amazon's founder and chief executive, Jeff Bezos, told an audience in New York: 'This is unbelievable value. What we're doing is making premium products and offering them at non-premium prices.'

Myspace's fading fortunes are an epic tale of strategic blunders, mismanagement and a stark warning about fickle user behaviour in digital media. The social network, which launched the careers of Lily Allen and My Chemical Romance, also acts as a stark warning to marketers on the danger of believing that each and every popular digital channel is here to stay. When user numbers are multiplying at such phenomenal rates, it is easy to forget how precarious the position of social networks can be. At its December 2008 peak, Myspace attracted 75.9m monthly unique visitors in the US, according to ComScore. News Corporation bought MySpace for $580m (£373m) in the same year. However, in January this year, the social network moved to axe the majority of its workforce outside the US. While analysts argue that the site could still re-invent itself, many more are of the opinion that Myspace's time is well and truly over.

In a year of extreme change, the enduring appeal of Coca-Cola, which celebrated its 125th birthday in May, served to underline the staying power of a strong brand. Coca-Cola remains one of the world's favourite drinks, despite its high sugar content against a backdrop of concerns about rising obesity levels, particularly among children.

When Unilever revealed its plans to take a more 'More magic, less logic' approach to marketing, the initiative was applauded by marketers across the company. The FMCG corporation revealed it wanted to shake up its numbers-led strategy to reward marketers who are prepared to take risks, and back creative ideas. At a global briefing, senior marketers Keith Weed and Marc Mathieu outlined its 10-year plan, designed to 'enable marketers to fail', where previously they had been 'scared' to do. At a time when many marketers have complained privately that the industry is becoming too focused on 'meaningless metrics' at the expense of creativity, Unilever's shift seemed apt.

Amid the national soul-searching that followed in the wake of this summer's riots, it was impossible for brands not to speculate about the long-term impact of the unrest on their businesses. Commentators have warned that British consumers are facing up to a 'social heart-attack' as citizens lose faith in the country's biggest social institutions and political processes. The images of London's streets ablaze and rioters looting from stores such as JD Sports, PC World and Carphone Warehouse flashed across the world and served to underline the precarious social and economic climate. The growth of the Occupy movement suggests that anger over global capitalism is more than fleeting unrest. The generational gap between fearful parents and an activist younger generation is growing, and the shift has major implications for brands, which need to ensure they are sensitive to the political and economic climate.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011


Apple Inc. is learning to compromise.
Facing challenges winning over customers for its iAd mobile advertising service, Apple is softening its approach as it loses ground to Google Inc. in the fast-growing mobile-ad market.

Following a tepid response to iAd, Apple's mobile ad service, the tech company is making changes to prices in hopes of landing more clients, Emily Steel reports on digits.
Launched in July of last year, and championed by former CEO Steve Jobs, iAd is Apple's service for selling ads within mobile apps on iPhones, iPads and iPod touches.
But response so far has been tepid: Marketers say they have been turned off by iAd's high price tag as well as Apple's hard-charging sales tactics and its stringent control over the creative process.
Google's AdMob service, on the other hand, is priced more reasonably, ad executives say, and is available on a wide array of devices—not just Apple products.
In response, Apple is making some changes. It is showing more willingness to bargain on the spending commitment it requires of advertisers.

Having originally asked marketers to commit to spend at least $1 million—an amount later dropped to $500,000—Apple is now discussing ad deals with a minimum commitment of just $400,000, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Apple has also introduced more flexibility to a pricing structure that had befuddled advertisers, ad executives say. Instead of charging marketers every time a user taps on an ad—a policy which often led to ad budgets quickly being exhausted—Apple is willing to put a cap on what it charges for the taps, according to the person. Advertisers pay $10 every time an ad is viewed a thousand times and $2 every time it is tapped on.
Apple is softening its approach to advertisers as it loses ground to Google in the fast-growing mobile ad market.
Pricing for Google's mobile-ad products vary widely, according to one ad executive. Ad executives say display ads on apps from a range of providers vary from $4 to $12 per thousand views. Advanced targeting or mobile video can command higher premiums than static banner ads, this person said.
In an effort to woo more advertisers, Apple is establishing a training program, arranged in conjunction with its media buying agency OMD, part of Omnicom Group Inc., to teach the firm and its clients about the mobile marketing landscape.
In recent weeks about 30 senior marketing executives, from firms including PepsiCo Inc., Clorox Co. and J.C. Penney Co., visited Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. The marketers got a tour and a series of information sessions with Apple designers and product teams.
Participants concluded the tour with a visit to the Apple company store where they were able to make purchases with a discount, according to ad executives who participated.
OMD is planning a trip to Apple in February with more of its advertiser clients, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The event demonstrated that Apple is trying to adapt to the ways of Madison Avenue. Inviting marketers for campus visits has long been a standard tactic for ad-dependent Silicon Valley firms like Google, Yahoo Inc. and Facebook Inc. While it has hosted big customers of its electronics products at its campus, this is one of the first times Apple has tried such an approach with advertisers.
"They are still learning the advertising world," says Shiv Singh, head of digital at PepsiCo Beverages.
Mr. Jobs envisioned iAd more as television advertising than online marketing, which he viewed as irritating, according to people familiar with the matter.
A typical iAd is one for Unilever's Dove Men + Care soap brand. In it, a consumer sees a banner ad at the bottom of an application on a phone or iPad. When the consumer taps on the ad, videos featuring baseball players like Andy Pettitte appear, as well as more information about Dove products.
Some marketers say they are pleased with the results of their iAd campaigns and are eager to renew deals. Unilever, which has bought 13 iAd campaigns for brands including Dove soap, and Ben & Jerry's ice cream, said that consumers spent an "amazing" level of time with the ads, on average 68 seconds in the U.S., across mobile devices.
Apple is hoping to gain back ground that it has lost to Google in the mobile-ad market. Last year, Apple shared the top spot in the mobile display ad market with Google, with each company capturing 19%, according to research firm IDC. This year, Apple fell to the No. 3 spot, behind Google and independent mobile ad firm Millennial Media, capturing 15%, or $95 million, of the $630 million market, IDC says.
A spokesman for Apple declined comment.
While Apple's moves to placate marketers won't greatly affect its business, which is humming on hardware sales, the state of the service could affect developer loyalty to its platforms over time.
The company launched iAds to make building Apple apps more attractive for developers, who are increasingly interested in building software for Android devices and getting advertising checks from Google.
Hordes of developers have activated iAd, but they say that Apple hasn't sold enough to make any meaningful revenue for them. David Barnard, founder of mobile app company App Cubby, says he earned $320 from iAd in the past 30 days and that the service is only filling roughly 13% of his apps requests.
Unilever recently agreed to renew its iAd agreement with Apple for the next year, including launching iAd in developing markets across the globe.
"We got in there early and we're both learning together. They learn from us and we've learned from them," says Unilever Chief Marketing Officer Keith Weed. He declined to discuss pricing.
Even so, marketing executives say Apple needs to modify its approach to win over more.
"Apple said, 'Let's try to disrupt the advertising business.' On this one, they didn't succeed," says Alexandre Mars, head of mobile for Publicis Groupe SA. "They know that they need to adapt themselves now if they want to survive - even if it is Apple."
One major challenge Apple faces: because the company only sells ads that appear on Apple devices, marketers are forced to buy ads from competitors to reach broader audiences, says IDC analyst Karsten Weide. "Apple we believe will, over time, fade into the background," he says. "It was attempted to make sure that even consumers advertising experience on Apple devices was perfect, but it hasn't really worked."Read more:

Monday, 12 December 2011

Apple Changing Terms for iAd Program (

Last July, Apple Inc launced iAd, which is a service for selling advertisements in mobile applications on iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches. Apple is losing ground to Google Inc in the mobile advertising market, which is why the company has decided to change some things around in iAd. Marketing companies claim they are turned off by the high price for the service and how stringent Apple is when it comes to the creative process for the ads.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple has lowered its commitment to spending from $1 million to $500,000 to where it stands now at $400,000. Apple also introduced flexibility in its pricing scale, one that previously confused its advertisers. The program used to charge advertisers each time an ad was clicked, which caused advertising budgets to become exhausted quickly. Apple is now willing to put a cap on the user tap ads. Every time an ad is tapped on, advertisers pay $2 and $10 each time an ad is viewed.

Apple has also announced that it will release a training program, in conjunction with its Omnicom Group Inc and OMD. The program will teach the firm and its clients all about mobile marketing. Over the past couple of weeks, close to 30 senior marketing executives from various companies received tours and information sessions from Apple designers and product teams. Those companies included J.C. Penny, Clorox, and PepsiCo. According to some of the execs who participated, they received a visit to the Apple company store, making purchases at a discounted price.

“They are still learning the advertising world,” says Shiv Singh, head of digital at PepsiCo Beverages.
One of the most common iAd advertisements is that of Dove Men + Care soap. The ad banner will be at the top of an application and when clicked on, the ad will load videos featuring athletes such as Andy Pettitte. Additional information about Dove is in the videos as well.

There are some marketing companies that are very happy with their iAd campaigns and are looking forward to renewing their deals. Unilever, which is responsible for the Dove ads, are happy with the time spent by Americans on their ads. Most of their ads are viewed for a total of 68 seconds on mobile devices.
“We got in there early and we’re both learning together. They learn from us and we’ve learned from them,” says Unilever Chief Marketing Officer Keith Weed.

“Apple said, ‘Let’s try to disrupt the advertising business.’ On this one, they didn’t succeed,” says Alexandre Mars, head of mobile for Publicis Groupe SA. “They know that they need to adapt themselves now if they want to survive – even if it is Apple.”

IDC analyist Karsten Weide said the following about Apple’s iAd program: “Apple we believe will, over time, fade into the background,” he says. “It was attempted to make sure that even consumers advertising experience on Apple devices was perfect, but it hasn’t really worked.”

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

CSR departments are redundant, says Unilever's Weed (Marketing Magazine, by Matthew Chapman)

Brands should build corporate social responsibility (CSR) into all their working practices rather than have standalone CSR departments, according to Keith Weed, Unilever chief marketing officer.
Weed laid out Unilever's philosophy at today's (29 November) annual Marketing Society conference, as he explained how Unilever would achieve its aim of doubling the size of its business, while reducing its environmental impact

He said: "We don’t have a CSR department – if you have a CSR department, then it's an add-on.
"Sustainability is something we do from day to day. Employees who are engaged perform better – they need to be engaged in something and believe in something."

He stated Unilever's ambition to drive growth of the business by catering to consumers' needs, sparked by the booming global population.

Weed added: "The only sustainable growth is consumer-demanded growth. Clearly, in a resourcefully strained world we need to think about environmental and social responsibility."

Unilever would focus heavily on sanitation products because of the expected growth of urban slums.
One such product the FMCG giant is putting its weight behind in developing markets is Lifebuoy, which was first launched as a reaction to the slums of Victorian England.

Weed claimed the firm's factories only produced a small proportion of greenhouse gases during the lifecycle of a product. The manufacturing of the product in factories contributed 3% of greenhouse gases, whereas the collection of the raw materials contributed 26% and customers using the products gave off 68% of the greenhouse gases, he said.

Unilever wanted to help suppliers and customers reduce the environmental impact of products before and after they enter its factories.

This push will involve all Lipton teabags being sourced sustainability by 2015.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Talking with Keith Weed Unilever’s chief marketing and communications officer (

Ahead of his appearance at The Annual Conference in November, Keith Weed talked to Marketing Society editor, Elen Lewis about cheese, instinct and sustainability.

What does a bold marketing leader look like?
They would have a love of brands and a passion for people. They would also have foresight and be courageous. Finally they would have both magic and logic!

Describe your job in 10 words or less.
Ensure our brands deliver consumer demand-led, sustainable growth

What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
Explore every opportunity and let your instinct be your guide.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made and what did you learn from it?
Underestimating the scale of the leading razor competitors’ response to the Lynx razor launch (we later withdrew the product). This hard lesson helped a few years later when I was defending our large and successful European deodorant business when a major global competitor launched a new deodorant brand across Europe (they later withdrew the product!).

What should all global leaders know about growth?
The short answer is that growth needs to be sustainable, not just economically, but also for the environment and society. Sustainability needs to be a central part of the business model and reflected in organisation design. For example, my key responsibilities cover Marketing, Communications and Sustainability. The need for more sustainable consumption requires more sustainable approaches to business and products. Marketing needs to engage with this agenda to innovate more sustainable solutions and to help change consumer behaviour. With a predicted 9 billion people on the planet by 2050, it’s easy to see why we have put Sustainable Living at the heart of everything we do. Our approach is captured in the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (

How do you balance resources between the growth economy of the BRICs and mature markets?
Unilever has a strong presence in the developing and emerging growth markets with 54% of our sales in these countries. We have been in many of these markets for 100 years, so we already have a big presence and do not need to radically rebalance resources in the way some other companies are doing.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Tell us a secret.
I love to paint (pictures, not walls!)

K. Weed, Unilever: “In the digital age, product superiority is even more important in our marketing mix” (

K. Weed, Unilever: “In the digital age, product superiority is even more important in our marketing mix”

Monday, 14 November 2011

Unilever plc : Unilever and World Toilet Organization partner for the World’s First Toilet Academy (

Ho Chi Minh: With 2.6 billion people across the world without access to clean toilets, Unilever is proud to announce the world's first Toilet Academy that will address the global sanitation issue.

To celebrate World Toilet Day (19th November), Unilever's health and hygiene brand Domestos (also known as Vim) has announced the global roll-out of Domestos Toilet Academies, starting with a pilot Academy in Vietnam opening next year, that will help provide sustainable and long-term solutions to sanitation that benefit local societies and help stimulate the local economies.

The Domestos Toilet Academy, developed in conjunction with the World Toilet Organization, will run month-long training courses for local people interested in setting up their own businesses to source, sell and maintain toilets, and educate local communities on the importance of sanitation.

Lack of sanitation is a serious health risk to the billions of people with no toilet facilities, particularly those who are forced to engage in the demeaning practise of open defecation [1]. The lack of functioning toilets in schools is also a major cause of school dropout by adolescent girls [2].

In Vietnam, only half the population has 'some sort' of sanitation facility, and 82% do not have access to facilities that meet the hygiene standards of the country's Ministry of Health [3]. By addressing these issues, the Domestos Toilet Academy will help accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for sanitation; to halve the proportion of people without access to basic sanitation by 2015, and therefore contribute to Millennium Development Goal 4, to reduce child mortality. Currently the MDG for sanitation is the goal lagging the furthest behind.

"It is unimaginable that in 2011, 2.6 billion people, two fifths of the global population, do not have access to a clean toilet. We know that better sanitation saves lives, which is why we at Unilever have committed to sustainably improve sanitation through the Domestos Toilet Academy programme. We are working with the World Toilet Organization and local communities to not only help millions of people get access to clean toilets, but also help them create sustainable businesses, to give them a better life," said Keith Weed, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Unilever.

Jack Sim, Founder of the World Toilet Organization added, "Having access to a clean and functioning toilet is something that many people take for granted. In the past few years, progress has been made in Vietnam towards improving sanitation; however there is still a long way to go. Only 12% of schools actually have hygienic toilet access, with rural areas suffering the most. By working in partnership with Unilever's Domestos, we can effectively pool resources and expertise to work towards a shared goal for improved sanitation and create a long-term, focused solution that reaches the people that need it most."
Weed added, "For Unilever this project emphasises the importance of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan. It is a true demonstration of our commitment to help more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being by 2020. Additionally, Unilever will be partnering with UNICEF to help address the sanitation crisis and promote health through improved hygiene and access to toilets."

Opinion: CMO World Tour interview with Unilever's Keith Weed (Campaign / CMO World, by Frédéric Colas)

Frédéric Colas, chief strategic officer of Fullsix, speaks to Keith Weed, chief marketing and communications officer at Unilever, on marketers who, until they become digital natives, are "lost".

There is, says Unilever’s marketing boss, a lost generation. It’s made up of marketers who left school before the arrival of digital and are still waiting for their children to grow up and induct them into IM, Facebook and the rest of the social media jungle.
They need to accept the fact that they are missing out, and accept that “ultimately we all need to be digital natives,” he says.
“It’s like being caught out suddenly with everyone going to use cars and you’re still on a horse, I mean it’s going to work for a very short period of time,” he says. “If I wasn’t iChatting with my 20-year-old at university he wouldn’t be talking to me. If I wasn’t texting and sending photographs back and forth with my daughter I wouldn’t have a relationship.”
Weed says the challenge for CMOs in the digital age is to constantly be at the cutting edge.
“You could say that it is easy for the second-largest advertiser in the world, we have big budgets and if we can’t do it shame on us,” he says pointing out that while smaller companies will always be nimble, medium-sized brands may struggle to be competitive against those like Unilever that have the firepower and start ups with greater energy.
His own personal digital consumption is powered by his Blackberry (for inputting and the fact that it doesn’t drop calls in the UK) and an iPhone. An iPad has replaced a laptop for his travels but at home there is a laptop in every room.
Weed admits to being a lurker on Twitter, which he uses to research important news stories, but keeps Facebook for his friends and LinkedIn for work, mostly to allow people to get in touch with him.
He also acknowledges the importance of social commerce, recently changing his choice of leaf blower purchase after reading reviews on Amazon pointing out problems with the strap.
“What struck me is the importance nowadays of having great products that can be peer reviewed. You can have great advertising but if you don’t have great products you can't have someone out there sharing their personal experiences. It has put a much greater emphasis on product quality and, in fact, product superiority in our overall marketing mix,” he says.

Frédéric Colas: How has your personal digital life impacted your vision of marketing?
Keith Weed: One of the things I say to all my team is you’ve really got to live the space. It’s a term I’ve stolen off Babs [Rangaiah], who heads digital for us here in Unilever and it is so true. I mean could you imagine someone who would only ever listen to the radio coming up with fantastic TV commercials, if you hadn’t seen TV, engaged with TV I think it would be very hard to come up with great TV commercials.
I expect all marketers in Unilever to be living the space, engage and if you are going to be a great [marketer] you need to be a great digital [marketer]. So that would be the first thing I would say is just get a feel.
FC: What is the likely impact of mobile on Unilever’s marketing strategy?
KW: We are a mass-market consumer goods business, everyday two billion people use our products so this is massive - a third of the planet is using our products. But actually this is made up of single decisions and single purchases and the great thing about a mobile device is it's a very personal thing.
So first you are engaging with people where they are at that moment, their lifestyles. So, for example, young people now use mobiles rather than watches to tell the time and certainly to wake themselves up.
…going beyond that, of course, then everything has to be about specifics, can you imagine now you are in Central Park and it’s a sunny day, because of the mobile device we know it is a sunny day, we know you are in Central Park and we can now send you an offer to say there’s a new ice cream just being launched called Magnum — why don’t you go and try one?
By the way here are the three nearest stores, and by the way here is a coupon you can use to try a Magnum. That sort of marketing that one-to-one marketing is only just around the corner.
FC: How does digital change the job of the CMO?
KW: The fundamentals will remain the same as far as people buy brands. They buy brand experiences, they enjoy products and services and they repeat purchases based on the enjoyment of that product and service. That will always remain the same, so no matter how we engage people you can’t get people to repeatedly use a product that isn’t any good and you can’t get people to develop a relationship with a brand they don’t like. I think what’s different is the way we engage people, and certainly we have had a mass approach to engagement of people with TV.
TV still remains incredibly important, but I think we will see TV coming down and a more personalised engagement on a one-to-one basis, which of course is not only because the devices enable you to do it, (but) the data behind that gives all [marketers] the opportunity to understand better what their particular consumer wants, likes, and is interested in, and hence has a better chance of engaging with them.
I think that is the exciting part and that is going to change and change the whole social graph and right now lots of people are collecting lots of data, we don’t have the power yet to unlock that, but we will.
FC: How does digital change your vision of marketing in two key words?
KW: For me it would be “connectivesness” and “always-on”. I think this connectiveness with an individual, the ability to interact with the people directly rather than via a TV screen or indeed, of course, via a retailer. It's not like data used to be through just the retailer; now we have a direct connection.
"Always-on" creates an opportunity but a massive challenge for a company like ours. We have a well-honed system to spend several hundreds of thousands of dollars creating a 30-second TV ad.
You cannot do that and be always-on. So as I’ve said to my team the challenge is to have always-on, quality content that’s cost effective and right now you can have two of the three, but you can’t have three of the three. I want two of the three, I’ll get three of the three but we’ve got some work to do before we get there.
FC: How does Unilever hope to achieve always-on quality content that’s cost effective?
KW: We have been connecting directly with a lot of the content providers so I’ve been out with the Viacoms, the News Corps and the MTVs, the top studios and broadcasters, because the digital evolution is even more profound for them than it is for us.
But the big way it’s really profound is their distribution model. We can be part of the distribution model. We have a model, which I know many people do, of the paid, owned and earned media spaces.
'Earned' is an exciting area around social pages, we all know it’s the good old TV but we also put in search etc.
But in the 'owned' I think with some good content we can have a much more dynamic place in engaging consumers beyond just communication messages into content and that way I think we can get some interesting partnerships.
FC: How is your marketing structure adapting to digital?
KW: We have a marketing structure that has brand development – people who build the equity and innovation on a cross country, regional, global basis and then we have what we call brand builders, who are marketers and much more focused on local markets.
What we have been doing is moving the role of digital asset creation more away from the local [marketers] to the cross country, regional, global [marketers] and for obvious reasons. It’s a very global medium and you can see a particular digital campaign in different markets. And you've got to make sure that’s it’s appropriate — and what’s appropriate to a Spanish speaker in Latin America might be very different to a Spanish speaker in North America, but both have visibility.
…On the other side, it’s the whole engagement on a community basis and the local [marketers] need to be resourced and have the ability to engage with consumers on a very local basis.
So in one way we’re going more global and creating structures, making sure the IT platforms are robust whether be it from data protection through to functionality, which you don’t do so much if you’re doing it with a local agency in a local market.
But then on the other side we’re pushing the local marketers to get closer to their communities, being community managers, engaging with their consumers, ensuring that the presence of their brand in their particular market, whether it be across YouTube, whether it’s a combination of natural and bought search across to what people are talking about in Facebook, all adds up and makes sense.
FC: On what challenges would you like to get the advice from your peers at the World Federation of Advertisers?
KW: To me the two challenges are: How do you create always-on cost effective quality content and really understanding how to [do] community management. You could end up putting a lot of resource talking on a one to one basis with a lot of people in a very ineffective way and we’re still working on that as I’m sure many others are.
For additional content from this conversation visit and, where you can also propose questions for future guests and find other CMO World Tour content.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Unilever: 'UK still top for marketing brainpower' (Marketing Week, By Lara O'Reilly)

Unilever’s global communications planning director Geoff Seeley says the UK is still leading the way in “communications thinking”, as the company posted an increase in sales for the third quarter.

Speaking at MediaPro 2011 yesterday (2 November), Seeley said the UK homes the world’s marketing thought leaders, although developing markets are doing “a great job” of executing campaigns, specifically in new media such as mobile and digital.

“We have invested heavily at the centre [in the UK] to transform the way we are undertaking marketing in developing markets. We have a strong CMO in Keith Weed and a mandate from the CEO to [concentrate on growing the brand in emerging economies],” he added. Unilever CEO Paul Polman forecasts that 80 to 90% of Unilever’s future business will come from developing markets. Third quarter results announced today (3 November) reported that a 13.1% rise in sales in developing markets such as India and Brazil offset slower growth from developed markets.

Seeley said yesterday that Unilever has produced “pockets of fantastic work” in developing markets, particularly in China where the company recently produced a branded TV programme for its anti-dandruff shampoo brand Clear. Unilever claims the programme and corresponding marketing activity reached one third of the Chinese population and achieved media value of 7.4 times the marketing spend.
Seeley added: “[The UK] still has the [marketing] brainpower and is leading the way we think about communications.”

Unilever reported a 7.8% increase in sales for the third quarter, which it said was driven by increased prices and growth from emerging markets. The Flora and Dove maker raised prices by 5.8% in the three months to 30 September. A 2.9% drop in Western European sales were offset by a 2.4% increase in prices. The UK, the company adds, saw “good growth and share gains”.
Rival Procter & Gamble reported a 4% increase in organic sales last week.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Unilever outlines 'more magic, less logic' fresh marketing philosophy (Marketing Magazine, by Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith)

Unilever is to undertake a fundamental change in approach to its marketing through the implementation of a fresh 'More magic, less logic' company philosophy.

The FMCG brand-owner wants to shake up its numbers-led marketing strategy to reward marketers who are prepared to take risks and back creative ideas.

At a recent global briefing, principally featuring Unilever’s brand teams worldwide, along with roster agencies, senior marketers Keith Weed and Marc Mathieu outlined a 10-year plan. Providing that the company subsequently learned from its mistakes, they believe this would ‘enable marketers to fail’, where previously they have been ‘scared’ to do so.

Mathieu, Unilever’s senior vice-president of marketing, emphasised the need to diverge from what one source described as an ‘unthinking adherence to quantitative market research at the risk of losing some of the creative spark that leads to great creative ideas’.

The change is understood to move Unilever away from the type of model used by rival Procter & Gamble.
Mathieu, a former senior marketer at Coca-Cola, took up his role at Unilever in April. His appointment completed an overhaul of the marketing team by Weed, Unilever’s chief marketing and communications officer.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Unilever drives market development of coffee in India, esp growth of premium coffee segment. (The Hindu Business Line)

Within the cramped confines of South Mumbai's Suryodaya outlet opposite Churchgate station, customers have been surprised to see a mannequin holding a tray of Bru's Exotica coffees. Taking on the onus of building the premium coffee category, Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) is pushing its latest range of international coffees from Brazil, Colombia and the Kilimanjaro region with prices that are nearly double that of Bru Instant. While modern trade will play a major role in building the category, HUL is also roping in local stores such as Suryodaya to vend its exotic coffees.

The 50-year-old coffee brand from HUL's stable has now entered the premium end of the Rs 950-crore organised coffee market hitherto dominated by imported brands. Even its nearest competitor Nestle has a single brand, Nescafe Gold, in the premium segment, and HUL sees this as an opportunity to tap into the trend to consume high-end coffee at home.

“We have to create the premium coffee market and would be investing in market development in the next 3-4 years. While tea penetration is 96 per cent, coffee penetration is as low as 12-15 per cent,” says Arun Srinivas, Vice-President (Beverages), HUL. But considering the coffee category is growing at almost 20 per cent, HUL is tapping into the trend, be it at home or even at cafés.

“There is a lot of urbanisation, affluence and lifestyle changes happening among Indian consumers. We intend capturing this trend by launching Bru Exotica, the world's finest coffees from Brazil, Colombia and Kilimanjaro. This would give Indian consumers a chance to indulge in international flavours from the comfort of their home,” says Srinivas. Adapting these international flavours to suit the Indian palate, HUL believes the market is now ready to accept these premium coffees but recognises there will be challenges to drive penetration for the category in both the urban and rural markets.

It has roped in actors Priyanka Chopra and Shahid Kapoor to endorse the latest range. The ads show both the actors enjoying these international blends as they imagine dancers from these countries entertaining them as they sip their brew. “We are the only ones investing in the premium coffee category, unlike our competitors who have not done much to build the category in terms of advertising,” adds Srinivas, alluding to Nescafe Gold.

Emulating the Starbucks strategy of selling the coffee brand through retail stores and its own chain, HUL's new premium offering is in sync with the launch of its Bru World Cafes which sell premium coffees.

HUL took a big leap forward into coffee retailing through its Bru World Cafes early this year. While a pilot is currently on in Mumbai with six outlets, a nationwide launch soon should see the Bru franchise being strengthened courtesy such cafes. “We have been a product-driven company but now we are getting into services with Bru, just like we had done for Kwality Walls' Swirl parlours. We are testing out the Bru Cafe in places such as Juhu, Bandra and Mulund (all in Mumbai) currently,” said Srinivas. HUL's nearest competitor Nestle has also tried the concept of Nescafe Coffee Parlours in the past.

Says Harish Bijoor, CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults, who has earlier worked in the coffee sector: “Every product must have a ‘service' avatar. Youngsters who experience the ambience of a Bru World Cafe will take its positive strokes back to the coffee their moms will buy off the kirana store shelf. Exotic coffee is a tough and generic task in India. I do believe this is the route for roast and ground filter coffee to take. Instant coffee adopting this stance is a tough one to justify. Real good exotic coffee is best had in the filter coffee form. Bru is trying to break this paradigm. And that's tough to crack.”

Industry observers believe that while Bru has brand recognition, HUL would have to go beyond coffees at its cafés to make a success of this business.

According to Harminder Sahni, Founder and Managing Director, Wazir Advisors, “HUL's Bru has brand recognition and the company understands how to manage its supply chain. But just having cafés under a pure-play coffee brand is not going to work for HUL. It has to look beyond coffee if it has to sustain it as a retail business.” In fact, most of the existing coffee chains such as Barista and CCD (Coffee Café Day) get more revenues from the non-coffee part of the business and this is what is expected to work for a typical coffee chain.

HUL is already selling its tea brands at its cafes and it may be a matter of time before it unleashes a full-fledged foods portfolio.

“Food services is already growing in excess of 35 per cent and it is going to be a new opportunity area for HUL as it will give it a larger part of the market,” observes Pankaj Gupta, Head (Consumer & Retail), Tata Strategic Management Group.

With a dominant share in the southern markets (estimated at 65 per cent), Bru continues to be the second largest coffee brand (with a value share of 44 per cent) in the country with variants such as Bru Lite, Bru Green Label Roast and Ground, Bru Ice and Bru Hot Cappuccinos to create segments within coffee. But more than segmentation, it is about getting tea drinkers to also consume coffee, and this applies to even the rural markets.

For instance, HUL has been trying to build the instant coffee market in rural India through body-mounted DVD players engaging 15 million households.

“The task was to build the category by reaching out to non-drinkers and encouraging them to try Bru. The team working on Bru is using body-mounted DVD players to build the market across rural areas and small towns in the South, says Srinivas.

Mr Arun Srinivas, Vice-President (Beverages), HUL

According to the company, the Bru team of promoters goes from door to door and shows one of three short films depending on whether the householder currently drinks tea, filter coffee or another instant brand. They then offer the consumer a Bru sample. “So far the team has reached over 15 million households with the brand gaining a 70 per cent share of new category entrants and increasing sales by around a third,” claims Srinivas.

Penetration of instant coffee in the South is quite low, particularly in small towns and rural areas, so the task was to build the category by reaching out to the non-drinkers of instant coffee and encouraging them to try Bru. Is it doable? “Totally,” says Bijoor, who says he has been championing this cause for many years now. “”Instant coffee offers convenience, economy, ease of use and the ability for every home to be a coffee-making home, never mind that you do not have a filter or a percolator. It is coffee dumbed down to its lowest degree of ease. If one is to penetrate rural markets instant coffee is the best way to go.”

With HUL pushing its coffee portfolio in both the urban and rural markets, hopefully the high price of the commodity will not affect its brand building efforts. According to Kaustubh Pawaskar, analyst at brokerage firm, Sharekhan, “HUL's beverages portfolio has been growing between 13 and 15 per cent and is a small segment within the foods portfolio.

Considering the segment is still underpenetrated unlike its HPC (home and personal care) portfolio, there is scope for the FMCG player to drive coffee consumption in the country. Hopefully its brand building efforts in the category will not get impacted by the high raw material costs hitting its margins.”

But HUL is ready to splurge on its coffee brand considering Bru has recorded a 26 per cent growth, according to Nielsen. “Commodity prices are at their peak for coffee but we will not stop investing in and building our brand,” says Srinivas. HUL, it is clear, knows its brew.

CGI 2011: Girls, Women, and Water (Business Insider, Angry Bear Blog)

Forty billion (40,000,000,000) miles of walking for water per year; a leader of Kenya claims that eight billion of that is done in their country alone. That’s a lot of manual (gynical?) intervention, often during hours of darkness with a full day ahead of them, with low marginal productivity. Pat Mitchell, the President and CEO, The Paley Center for Media, notes that her great-grandmother did the same thing—in the United States. Tyler Cowen’s claim of a “Great Stagnation” look more and more backwards.

Marta Echavarria, a Colombian who is the Founding Director of EcoDecision, opens by discussing how important for health and growth it is the downstream and upstream process is managed. She notes that she began working for sugar producers—large water users, almost all men—whose initial idea was “to buy the watershed.” This didn’t work, so instead producers and cities built community Water User Associations that worked in both directions—reforestation, usage controls, and “water quality trading,” which is something like cap-and-trade but with market segmentation based on the absolute need for purity. Echavarria noted that she is one of the rare women involved—“the world of water is male,” and “water rights are linked to land rights, which remain dominated by males.”

Echavarria was followed by Betty Kyazike, who is a Ugandan Branch Manager for Living Goods (which Mitchell describes as “a mash-up between Avon and Microfinance”), which serves 700 communities, and whose business model depends primarily on recruiting women as sales operatives. Kyazike, one of the most dynamic speakers at the conference, manages a branch of 50 communities, having risen from an initial sales position to run “the top-performing branch” of the organizations. (Mitchell: “I don’t think we’re at all surprised.” Did I mention that Kyazike speaks, in English at least, with the cadence of a hyperactive William Shatner?)
As with the earlier meeting, Ms.Mitchell notes that there is an education process to selling the Living Goods products: showing how they can prevent and reduce the spread of diseases such as diarrhea and cholera through sanitation and hand-washing. Teaching disease prevention and risk reduction through products such as water treatment tabs and filters. Literally, life-changing products in the developing world.
(I really want to find someone to put a music track behind Kyazike’s presentation; it would be a best-selling album.)

Keith Weed, the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer for Unilever, follows by noting that if his sales staff had Kyazike’s passion, they would be even bigger than they are. Unilever has committed very publicly to a Sustainable Living Plan, which is very public and very centered on potable water. Again, this is about providing products that can change people’s lives. “On average, the walk to collect water is 3.7 miles per day”—at least half of which is carrying heavy water over unsteady ground. (He tried it and ended up with a backache.) One of the things that Weed notes is that people don’t tell the truth about what they did—not always deliberately lying so much as not being fully aware of how much is used or how much time something takes to do. Weed notes that the biggest daily use of water is laundry: adding a cleanser that allows people to go from using three buckets of water for rinsing to one is both a behavioral change and a water savings. Similarly, he notes that there are more mobile telephones than toilets in India—and mobile telephones were a change in behavior in themselves.

Mark Tercek, the President and CEO of The Nature Conservancy notes that when poaching in Kenya is stopped, money starts flowing back into the city, which uses it for education and water. One village combined this by making water pickup available in the schools, aiding both areas. The side benefit of conservation is also that the people feel safer when the poachers are gone; Tercek cites a woman who “no longer sleeps in her shoes” because she now will not have to be ready to run in the middle of the night.

Tercek tells about how Quito, Ecuador, was contemplating an investment in a large water treatment plant. Instead, The Nature Conservancy and others were able to convinced them to invest in upstream conservation that keeps the water clean before it gets there (on the model of NYC, which receives its potable water from upstate). In doing follow-up work on the project, The Nature Conservancy discovered that the added efforts upstream had led to entrepreneurial expansion: women who used to raise sheep making clothes for local sales instead. Marta Echavarria noted that a similar effort afoot in Lima, Peru, led by AquaFund (which is part of the InterAmerican Development Bank) that has produced a Water Trust Fund with reciprocal agreements to finance local businesses. But she notes that these efforts need to scale, and are being impeded by historic water and land rights restrictions.

In a discussion more related to Organization Management than the specific topic, a speaker from the audience noted that her new organization was attempting to raise $1B over the next five years. Mark Tercek pointed out that it is not necessary to form a new organization if there is already one working in the same space; in the NGO/Charitable Organization sector, you often can get a better return by advocating, supporting, and helping existing organizations to improve. After all, his organization spends—and, more importantly, can spend—half a billion dollars a year. Collaboration, not competition, can produce better results in the public sector.
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Clinton Global Initiative 2011 (Girls, Women, and Water)

Clean water and just watershed management are issues critical to healthy development that disproportionally affect girls and women. In most societies, women are responsible for collecting and managing the household water supply for cooking, cleaning, bathing, drinking, growing food, and raising livestock. Beyond the management of household water lie larger systemic issues, including unequal access to water supplies, lack of access to sanitation, lack of adequate facilities (particularly in schools), unequal land rights, and the inability to use water for large-scale food or livestock production. Similar to food allocation and money management, studies show that when women are in charge of water, water practices improve for all members of the family and community, and that projects designed and run with the participation of girls and women are more sustainable and effective than those that are not. This panel will explore how girls and women can tangibly improve outcomes for the health and productivity of households and ensure the long-term sustainability of water resources for entire communities. Furthermore, the session will focus on what can be scaled, and how to include girls and women in scaling efforts.

Marta Echavarria, Founding Director, EcoDecision
Betty Kyazike, Branch Manager, Living Goods
Pat Mitchell, President and CEO, The Paley Center for Media
Mark Tercek, President and CEO, The Nature Conservancy
Keith Weed, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Unilever

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Market Leader Interview with Tom Holmes

Have a read through my recent chat with Market Leader's Tom Holmes about Unilever's integrated marketing strategy.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Apple sharpens enterprise focus, launches B2B app store in India

Business Standard
Priyanka Joshi / Mumbai August 18, 2011, 0:10 IST

A craze among individuals, Apple has now launched its B2B App Store in India, allowing businesses to make volume purchases of apps. Companies can now deploy their own custom-made apps on iPad and iPhone devices for employees. The 4.5 million apps on the Apple App Store has been one of the biggest reasons for the success of iOS devices like iPhones and iPads.

Apple has also enabled a mass distribution system aimed at enterprise users, (called a volume purchase programme). This lets businesses buy third-party apps from the B2B App Store at reduced costs per-user on a mass-purchase basis and enables them on an employee's device. Businesses can buy custom B2B apps from developers through the Apple volume purchasing programme. The minimum price for a custom B2B app is $9.99.

“Whether you're providing apps to two employees or to 10,000, the volume purchase programme makes it simple to find, buy, and distribute the apps your business needs,” says Apple's website. According to Apple, custom B2B apps are built specifically for business by third-party developers and iOS developers can create B2B apps for customers enrolled in the programme.

Enterprise app developers across the globe have begun writing iOS apps for native industries and companies. For instance, Sourcebits, a software development company with offices in Bangalore and the US, is building custom apps for enterprise customers in India. It claims it saw rising interest for iOS applications in the enterprise, with the iPad becoming the most ubiquitous device of choice for access, collaboration and management for most enterprise managers.

Sourcebits' senior vice-president, Sudhir Kulkarni, says, “While the Indian enterprise customer is cost-conscious and adoption of iOS devices lag in comparison to the US, Europe and Japan, we do see a very high growth rate of adoption, eventually leading to a high potential return for Indian enterprises in deploying iOS apps…Employees in enterprises are consumers too, and as consumers, they have increasingly adopted iOS devices in their daily lives. We have also seen a surge in Apple computer adoption in the enterprise and foresee our expertise in Mac OS-X based software would create numerous enterprise solutions that work on the Apple eco-system - computers, tablets and iPhones, all while leveraging iCloud in a big way,” he adds.

Ian Thain, a senior technical evangelist with Sybase, writes on his blog, “Having an enterprise app store allows the information worker to see what his company suggests is a productive app, outside their internal developments. This is something SAP and Sybase believe, and are already working on such models.”

The potential is huge. Companies like Unilever have reportedly given around 30 iPads to their senior managers and executive board members, partly to familiarise them with technology the consumer goods company feels is important for marketing. “When you see board members swapping apps like kids swapping football stickers, you know you've got them,” said Keith Weed, Unilever’s chief marketing officer. British luxury brands like Burberry, best known for its $1,000 trench coats, has begun using iPads in select stores across the globe to allow customers to view its London runway shows and place orders on the spot.

Apple, on its website, described the B2B site as an IT manager with the ability to use a corporate credit card to buy apps in volume (at the same price consumers pay), including custom apps built by third-party developers. Once purchased, IT managers get redemption codes for each app and can control the distribution of apps by providing the codes to users through email or an internal website.

Cisco has already announced a similar B2B application storefront approach for its Cius tablet called AppHQ, a combination of an app stores and a tablet management and app development system. Sybase, along with its parent company, SAP, already offers a number of mobile apps for the iPhone and the iPad and would benefit from business app sales through Apple’s B2B store. While several Sybase and SAP apps are free, apps like Bizbox Direct allow the routing of workflow messages without the need for email, they available at the store for $149.99 (per app). Sybase mobile database client apps for iPads costs $7.99 each.

The idea is to keep things painless for IT departments to manage employees’ Apple devices. Should a company want to provide Apple’s business productivity tools like Keynote or Numbers, or any of the thousands of business-specific apps, app developers can now do it at a stroke. That’s something that may be tempting for businesses trying to squeeze more value out of their staff while they’re on the move, or perhaps even working from home.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

I'm honoured to be named one of the 100 most important in-house communicators

The Holmes' Report - The 100 Most Important In-House Communicators in the World

Keith Weed
Chief Marketing & Comms Officer
London, England
Keith Weed became the first person to unify marketing, communications and sustainability leadership at FMCG Unilever, taking on the top role in 2010. He is also the first Unilever CMO sit on the company’s powerful executive committee, and has became an important proponent of the need for brands to embrace the convergence of entertainment and media. His communications responsibilities mean he oversees one of the world’s biggest PR budgets, and his focus on content and social media also indicate that Weed is driving considerable integration at the company.

Before taking on the CMO position, Weed was EVP for global home care & hygiene at Unilever, and has worked for Unilever in the UK, France and the US, along with a variety of global and regional management and marketing roles.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Mass vs Niche: Unilever's Keith Weed answers what's right! (CNBC-TV 18)

On CNBC-TV18’s special show-Storyboard, Keith Weed, chief marketing and communications officer of Unilever spoke about the company's recent restructuring and future plans.

Below is the verbatim transcript of his exclusive interview with Anuradha SenGupta in Cannes. Also watch the accompanying video.

Q: We are talking on a day when we hear that Unilever has just announced huge broad-based restructuring of its business. Instead of categories like home, personal care and food, you have added refreshment too. How does that impact your work, and marketing function?

A: The rational behind is still the same with main focus on growth. We made a greater focus on our categories to ensure that we have greater expertise and a greater driver behind our brands. For me and the marketing function, we are going to be very much the glue that brings the whole of the marketing organization together and focus on the expertise and driving our marketing high.

Q: In India when we talk to Hindustan Unilever, there is this conversation from brand development those guys are brand building and that brand building is handling the local business and is responsible for sales in that area, whereas the innovation and what brands will come in is the function of development. How is this structure going to be impacted by this re-organization and what does this mean therefore for people who are working with you?

A: It doesn’t change at all the brand building and brand development. This is an organization where we can get the equity development expertise and the innovation and brand design etc and the brand development and then being really close to the local consumer.

At the end of the day, our business is built in one purchase at a time and one use at the time. So, we are going to be very close to the local markets, but also we are going to be at the leverage of the expertise of Unilever’s brand development skills across the markets. So the brand development and brand building are the main obkectives.

Q: What is the difference between the way you approach consumers in the emerging markets and developed world?

A: It’s very good question and you are right by saying that you are clubbing it altogether, you can’t is the answer. So we don’t club is altogether. We look at not even by country, but then we also look at consumers in clusters by their lifestyles. In fact a 14-year-old boy has more in common across Mumbai, Sao Paulo and Beijing than across the demographics in just, say, Mumbai.

So we are looking at cross sections people. This is the reason why I was saying about brand developments enables to look at target audiences, it appear, across areas. So we look at people in particular lifestyle segments. So things they engage with and then from that develop brand propositions for them.

Q: I find it interesting that most consumer goods companies are putting in a lot of effort to emphasize their commitment to the societies they belong. We heard Paul Polman speak often enough of sustainability and how it goes beyond just the environment and but looking at the environmental impact your businesses are having and yet, how does this become a differentiator for companies like yours because whether it is you, P&G or Nestle, everybody is talking the same language when it comes to the corporate brand that is being put forward and has being used to leverage product brands on?

A: Firstly, it’s great that big businesses are engaging sustainability agenda. I want the more here because we have got some big challenges in this world. Big companies taking part in missions to help the environment paves the way for betterment as challenges of the world rise. We will see more companies coming on board and more companies having sustainable mission.

Two things differentiate us: one, our DNA- the sort of values empowered by Unilever back from the late 1800s, with Lord Leverhulme and him building a company based on strong societal connection is very much in the DNA. It’s very comfortable to have a trajectory for us. Second, it is the different way we are looking right now at an environmental footprint is widely due to consumer use.

So, we are not just looking at the piece, we looking after the manufacturing and offices. We are looking at consumer use at consumer disposal and that whole life chain, the whole value chain piece is a differentiator.

Q: Do you as a marketing head for Unilever see the corporate brand as being integral to the marketing of your product brands because clearly there is a lot of effort to create and promote the corporate brand identity?

A: Absolutely, it’s a good question. The change in digital world left companies some what sort of behind the brands and it was hard for consumers to really engage with what is the brand behind the brands. Now in the digital world you can easily research very quickly and find out what is the company behind. So people are more interested.

People want companies like us to be transparent and they want to learn more about Unilever. So we are promoting the Unilever brand more. But it’s more trying to explain to a consumer who is this company behind the brands that you know now.

Q: Does it make a difference to the consumers when they are actually making purchase decisions?

A: It does. So the building of trust and confidence behind the brands in all the tests we have done have shown is a positive thing.

Q: Give me a sense of how you are looking at traditional media because television especially in the developed market seems to be doing very well?

A: Television is very important to us and will be for a long period of time. In fact the term traditional and digital is an unhelpful term and it’s one we all use. But traditional pulls together TV and cinema and radio and print and then on the other side on digital you have got mobile and search and e-commerce.

So these terms in themselves are helpful, but also unhelpful and when you look inside that you find the TV is still very important and will be and also not just TV, video. So if you think about it, what is TV? It’s a moving picture on a square screen. Actually if you think about it whether that’s going to be on your computer, on your mobile device, on iPad, it’s still a moving picture and the whole video form is something that consumer is engaged with significantly.

Q: You have talked about the fact that you see brands as media properties, you want to tell us what you are doing with the examples of some brands and how that has worked for Unilever?

A: Yes, it’s a new area that we are experimenting in over the last sort of year or so. The model of we call paid, owned and earned and so paid is buying advertising on TV or search whatever owned is our own site. So this is or and then the earned of course is a whole social space.

So in that middle piece what we are trying to do is find ways of engaging consumers and building content and in that we are creating partnerships with people who are engaged with our brand, so actually Axe in itself is an interesting brand.

But if I go then say down to Latin America we have Axe mobile phone. So we are using the brand as a way to engage with consumers and give consumers benefits and services beyond just the products that we sell.

Q: You have said that Unilever you would like to be ahead of the consumer. So that when they get there you are already there. Over the past year since you have been at the head of this function, do you think the job has become or the function has become more complicated or less complicated? More or less challenging?

A: The whole marketing area is incredibly exciting and it’s very challenging. It’s a great time to be in marketing because there are so many options. But you are completely right, you need to be sharp and keep ahead of all the changes. So I have teams who are going at sort of two speeds really: one, being competitive today and then other’s team worrying about how we are going to be competitive tomorrow.

Q: This is over USD 3 billion worth of marketing spend, isn’t it?

A: Yes. We are not short of resources. What we are like everyone else short of over opportunities and ideas etc and I am very greedy in that area. So I am trying to find new ways to innovate in this space. So you will continue to see us innovating.

Q: You can’t tell us about the new things?

A: When you see them you will recognize them.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Brands Must Be Made Into 'Media Properties' (Brand Week)

When Unilever’s Keith Weed thinks about the future of brand building, he points to an Axe-branded phone sold in Latin America.

To Weed, the chief marketing and communication officer at Unilever, modern marketing embraces the convergence of entertainment, media and brands. He reiterated that point several times Tuesday during an interview at the 4A’s Transformation 2011 conference in Austin, Texas.

“We’re going to have to make our brands much more media properties in [their] own right,” said Weed, who was interviewed by MediaLink chairman Michael Kassan. “We . . . have to connect much more with content and make our brands more relevant.”

Unilever is the second largest advertiser globally (after rival packaged-goods giant Procter & Gamble), with annual marketing spending that exceeds $3 billion. What’s more, one in three people worldwide touch a Unilever brand each day, according to Kassan. As such, “we can’t afford to be niche in what we do,” Weed acknowledged. “I need to know what’s going on in the U.S., what’s going on in China, in Indonesia, in India, et cetera.”

While the infrastructure varies from country to country, consumers in those markets share a fascination with social media, video, gaming and the like. So, different cultures have more in common than in the past, thanks largely to the Web and new technology. The challenge for marketers and agencies, according to Weed, is to dive head first into that scrum.

“You’re not going to be a great prize fighter, a great boxer by watching people box and reading some boxing magazines. The only way you’re going to do it is to get into the ring and have a fight,” Weed said.

Accordingly, a group of some 20 Unilever executives traveled to Silicon Valley last spring in a “ digital journey” that resulted in new deals with Facebook and Apple. Weed is heading back to Northern California this Friday to continue similar meetings.

At the same time, Unilever is meeting with content creators like Disney to create entertainment opportunities. Weed also mentioned gaming as a furtive ground for brand development.

Media fragmentation—and its resulting complexity of choices—remains the biggest challenge facing Unilever and its agencies. Brands can be part of the answer, by connecting media channels in an organized and compelling way, according to Weed. After all, as he sees it, brands simplify life and can simplify the media scene as well.

For more highlights from the 4A's conference, check out Andrew McMains on Twitter.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Unilever Wants to Work With Fewer Digital Shops, More Closely CMO of Packaged Goods Giant Also Talks Talent, Mobile, Procurement and Old Spice

As Unilever streamlines its roster of digital marketing agencies, Keith Weed, the packaged goods giant's chief marketing officer and chief creative officer, is telling the plethora of digital shops it works with around the world: "Now is the time to show us your best, because down the road, we won't be working with all of you."

Mr. Weed explained the moves in an interview during the annual 4A's confab, which for the second year in a row is being held in Austin, Texas. It's a brief stop on a U.S. tour for the London-based executive, who agreed to speak with Ad Age before jetting out to catch a flight to Los Angeles, where he'll be meeting with Hollywood executives to explore branded entertainment and other marketing opportunities for the second largest advertiser in the world.

While the company has been trying to shift to a model where it works with just a handful of large digital shops globally, the process, according to Mr. Weed's estimation, could move faster. "At this stage, we haven't hugely exercised it," he said of the global digital roster it appointed nearly two years ago.

"You can't believe how many digital agencies we're working with now," Mr. Weed said. The idea isn't for Unilever simply to work with fewer agencies, though, but to work with fewer of them while having deeper -- and longer-lasting -- relationships with each. He noted that regional rosters of digital agencies will be created for certain important global markets, too.

Overall, the idea is for Unilever to work with its digital agencies the way it works with its creative agency relationships: a short list of shops which which the company works with on a more stable basis. Its lead creative agencies are WPP's Ogilvy and JWT, Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann and Lowe, Omnicom Group's DDB and Publicis-backed Bartle Bogle Hegarty. "We've had relationships with them for decades," and within that, Mr. Weed said, is a "shared ambition."

Here's some additional thoughts from Ad Age's interview with Mr. Weed, as well as his onstage interview on the first day of the conference with MediaLink's Michael Kassan.

On lasting agency relationships: "At the end of the day I want to be where there's innovation, insight, and to do that you need to connect with a team of people. So I'm a believer in working with agencies for a very long time." To change an agency partner, "to me, is a last resort and everyone has failed if that's happened."

On the success of rival P&G's marketing of Old Spice: "I think competition is a great thing. You get better, and the consumer gets a better deal too." Mr. Weed said competition spurs on improvements in work and improvements in product. Wieden & Kennedy's work for Old Spice came after the brand was hurting from the success of Unilever's Axe brand. "The good news is Axe is big, strong and vibrant. Watch for this space, there is going to be some great work coming."

On why talent should be more passionate about the biz: Mr. Weed insisted it's the most exciting time to be in marketing, if you're willing to really embrace the changes and dive in. He compared it to boxing: "If you want to be a spectator and watch something fine, but you're not going to excel at it. ... The only way you're going to do it is to get in the ring and have a fight. You can change the way things are shaped by choices you make. ... I'm a great believer in getting out there and getting engaged." And, he added, "if you don't have aspirations to be great in advertising, and great in this field ... move on."

On procurement's bad rap: "I feel really sorry for these procurement guys. Is anyone in this room procurement?" [No one raised a hand]. "Amongst us, as the say, how do these guys get this reputation? They are sort of like bad car salesmen, a hated tribe. ... If you're in the advertising world you've got to blame the marketers, not the procurement people. I reckon they are hiding behind the procurement. It's [marketers'] fault, they're doing the nasty stuff." Mr. Weed added that while marketers want creativity and innovation, at the end of the day, it's still about business, which means balancing efficiency and effectiveness. The procurement functions shouldn't work counter to one another, but together -- with the marketing expert, not the procurement officer, as the lead. "To be clear, at Unilever, whether it's on a media project or whatever, it's the media expert leading or defining what we want," he said. "Once we define what we want, we'd like to get it as efficiently as possible."

On challenges Unilever faces: "The biggest issue is purely the complexity and fragmentation that's out there. ... The expression 'digital marketing' isn't very helpful. It's about as helpful as 'traditional.'" He noted that for Unilever, which he pointed out is the second-largest advertiser in the world, with a more than $3 billion marketing budget, it can be difficult to know sometimes what channels or technologies make the most sense to reach consumers. "The most challenging thing I see right now is the amount of choices out there." At the same time, fragmentation is making brands more important, he said. "You physically cannot get through the day without being bombarded with all of these messages, and the way you get through the day is by engaging with the brands you want. We're going to see more brands simplifying people's lives."

On the growth of mobile: Briefly touching upon why mobile is becoming a more viable marketing channel, Mr. Weed said it was largely because of sheer number of users in certain markets. "There are over 500 million mobile phones in India. There are more mobile phones in India than toilets. Half of South Asia is openly defecating. I'm sorry if you've just had your breakfast." That comment prompted another speaker of the day, Time Inc. Editor-at-Large Fareed Zakaria, to assure the audience that while growing up in Mumbai he did indeed have a toilet.


Tuesday, 8 March 2011

The CMO's Guide to Business as Usual at SXSW (Ad Age)

Starting this weekend, tens of thousands of people will descend on Austin, Texas, for nearly two weeks of speeches and showcases of music, film and interactive media. South by Southwest, or "SXSW," has become the must-attend show for artists and a wide swath of digerati luminaries. If you didn't already know this, you probably don't belong there anyway, and if you did know about it, you're either going to the gig, announcing something there, and/or you've committed your brand to sponsorship.

Has anybody talked to you about this shindig who wasn't trying to sell it to you? I thought it might be helpful to share a little C-level insight with you before the event starts throwing off coverage that either confirms or challenges your suspicions.

First, it's a trade show. Gloriously so, in the spirit of some generic widget soiree circa 1950, only instead of wearing Sansabelt slacks and loud plaid blazers, the conventioneers wear shades of black. The industry isn't as well organized or defined like those of the past, but broadly its trade is digital connectivity through hardware, software or content. It's heartening to me that folks still make the effort to get together in our era of remote and sometimes abstract virtual experience to do what working stiffs have done for decades: party and gossip. SXSW is an improvement on both fronts over past trade shows in that its for-profit organizers have stripped out any pretension of writing customer sales orders to allow attendees to focus on the exchange of ideas and experiences, whether drunkenly or sober. It's the trade show where New Media goes Old School.

Second, in lieu of sales orders, it produces lots of hype. Like the internet that has made it famous, the event exists to transmit stories, so the people there exchanging ideas and experiences are often interested in promoting them to their friends and acquaintances ("followers," in the language of the influence business). This is the event to see people being seen and then report what you saw, all in the special language of microblogging and insider references so it comes across as ever more sight-worthy. As for the stories so transmitted ... well, some big names in the buzz space were launched at SXSW, but one study I found suggested that the stories that stay above the clutter for more than a nanosecond are those with real substance and import (i.e. they're not buzz but business news). The show is less a conduit for insights than it is a launching pad for fleeting fame.

Third, it puts old definitions of payola to shame. The digerati who have promoted a worldview in which information relies on their influence have mostly put themselves up for sale to the highest corporate bidders. So has the show overall: Huge brand names sponsor events as well as an endless array of awards competitions and parties. Bloggers can be bought to fill events with bodies and then anoint news announcements with their imprimaturs. Thank goodness we no longer have to get the facts from those traditional news reporters who kept their biases to themselves. SXSW gives us a bevy of really smart people whose convoluted logic lets them take money and gifts proudly (so much so that government regulation has replaced the fear of shame and ill repute that used to keep those old reporters at least marginally honest). Everybody is spinning everybody else in an enormous corporate self-lovefest that makes past conventions seem like tame church services in comparison. Looking for news about the future? Yeah, just remember CES a few months ago. There's no real information coming out of this event other than how much fun it is to be living right there, right then. And brands still can't buy cool.

But it's a great party, and I find absolutely nothing wrong with that. It's also fundamentally a music event, and Austin happens to be one of the best places on the entire planet for live music, so it's legit at least on that front. There's just no good reason why your brand should spend any money to be involved. Consider the enabling technologies and cultural shifts the SXSW folks are doing a brilliant job of monetizing for themselves: peer-to-peer connectivity, collaboration, consensus and community that spans every distance of space and time. You don't need a tradeshow to operationalize those powerful forces. Do as the experts say, not as they do.

Oh, and I'm not planning on going to SXSW, but if you want to waste oodles of money underwriting my drinking problem, I'm up for grabs. Make me an offer. I'll blog until I pass out.

Meet Your New Media Company: Facebook Social Network Starts Movie Rentals, Threatening Apple, Netflix, Hulu (Ad Age)

A big, powerful wild card just entered the movie distribution business. Warner Bros. Entertainment announced today it will begin distributing movies for sale and for rent through Facebook, beginning with "The Dark Knight." Initially it will be available for rental for $3 or 30 Facebook credits. Ultimately, other Warner movies will be available for both rental and for purchase.

Facebook is already the fastest-growing video service, so adding movies and, one would presume, TV episodes, should accelerate that. Facebook was the sixth-largest video provider in January, according to ComScore, ahead of Microsoft, Turner and Hulu. Unlike Hulu or YouTube, Facebook (thanks to Zynga) already has a robust credits marketplace made up largely of people buying virtual goods for games like "Farmville" and "Mafia Wars."

Hulu and Apple's iTunes have plenty of content and have been working to add social functionality to their services. Why? Because while search is great, TV and movies are social experiences, and they believe that social connections should play a big role in the discovery of content. People want to know what their friends are watching, and Facebook is best positioned to facilitate that.

The big question is how far YouTube goes into movie and TV sales and rentals. Right now YouTube has a limited catalog of movies for rent, such as "Reservoir Dogs" for $1.99, and via ad-supported streaming, like Jackie Chan's "The Young Master." YouTube's strategy seems pretty clear: It won't pay big Hollywood fees for content. Rather, it's looking to cultivate a newmarket for short-form video that exists largely outside Hollywood.

"The Dark Knight" isn't a new release (2008), and Facebook appears to be getting the same terms as iTunes, which rents the film for $2.99 and sells it for $9.99. One thing Facebook (and Netflix) have that Apple doesn't is a beachhead as an app on most internet-connected TVs.

Another way they're similar: Facebook takes a 30% cut of credits transactions, just like iTunes. Still, if Facebook allows studios to sell their wares directly and set their terms, there's no reason its catalog won't expand quickly. Netflix shares opened nearly 3% lower on the Nasdaq the morning this deal was announced.