Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Seeking a creative edge in Cannes sun (Evening Standard, By Gideon Spanier)

The eurozone is in crisis and Britain is back in recession, but you wouldn’t know it at the Cannes Lions festival where the bars, private beaches and yachts were heaving.

The annual, week-long pow-wow for the advertising industry — a mixture of speeches, parties and awards — was full of paradoxes.

One ad agency flew in actor John Hamm, aka Don Draper from TV drama Mad Men, a fictional ad man from a bygone era. Then there was internet firm Yahoo, on its third chief executive in just three years, which felt that having a big yacht sent out a positive message. Meanwhile, The Guardian deservedly won a prestigious Gold Lion after splashing out on its “Three Little Pigs” TV ad, even though the paper continues to lose £40 million a year.

Cannes matters because advertising generates £320 billion in annual revenues worldwide, up 4% on last year, despite economic jitters, according to Zenith Optimedia. The UK market is worth about £16 billion.

This is a rare opportunity for face-to-face contact for ad folk from around the globe, who meet in search of that magical, elusive quality: creativity. As WPP chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell likes to say: “We know it exists. We usually know it when we see it. We know that our future prosperity depends on it... But we can’t put a number to it.”

One of the best ways to seek inspiration is to look at the thousands of pieces of work on display. The talk in recent years has been about the rise of Asia and Latin America. However, this year, Western markets, including the UK,  did well.

The top Grand Prix awards in film and press went to agencies in the US, Italy and France. The US-based Mexican restaurant chain Chipotle triumphed with a gentle animated film telling the tale of a farmer trying unhealthy industrial methods before returning to natural ways. French channel Canal+ also won for its hilarious TV ad about a film director called The Bear. Both were proof that story-telling counts.

Press ads also performed strongly. Clothing chain Benetton won for its striking “Unhate” campaign, which imagined political rivals such as Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy kissing.

If this was the year that the West bounced back creatively, it was also a year when old-media firms — particularly those from London — regained some swagger. In addition to The Guardian’s success, The Sunday Times won Gold for its poster ads for the Rich List and Channel 4 took a design Gold for its More4 branding.

Digital innovation was oddly lacking. Even the smartest piece of work, Nike Fuel Band, which measures how much energy you’ve expended, is more of a physical than a virtual creation.

On the basis of awards won, emerging markets such as India, China and Russia lack creative clout. “There isn’t yet the work which is of a quality to win,” believes Miles Young, worldwide chief executive of Ogilvy & Mather.

He is well qualified to judge as his agency was the most-awarded, bagging a record 83 Lions. Domestic politics doesn’t explain fully the lack of strong work. “China is much more creatively led than Russia, even though you might argue China is less democratic,” says Young, whose Shanghai office won a Grand Prix for a Coca-Cola poster.

It’s not just agencies that come to Cannes seeking inspiration. Clients attended in record numbers — all the better to keep an eye on their agencies. 

A quarter of the 11,000 delegates, or nearly 3000, came from brands, according to Britain’s Top Right Group, formerly Emap, which runs the Lions.

Drinks company Diageo had around 17 staff — double last year. Energy giant Shell, which barely sent anyone previously, had 20. “The primary purpose of being here is following through on a belief that brilliance in creativity drives a disproportionate economic return,” explains Diageo chief marketing officer Andy Fennell.

“It’s a really cluttered media world — with social and search on top of TV and magazines — so creativity is at a premium,” believes Keith Weed, the top marketer at consumer goods giant Unilever.

Some fun-loving ad folk grumble that Cannes has become more sombre with so many clients. For Unilever's Weed, “this is a business conference”.

Most Brits were surprisingly upbeat, even allowing for the sunshine and rosĂ© wine. WPP’s £350 million deal to buy digital agency AKQA, announced at the festival, showed London is still a fertile breeding-ground for world-class talent.
Sir John Hegarty, whose Bartle Bogle Hegarty agency was behind The Guardian ad and Grand Prix-winning work for Lynx deodorant, says: “I think London is producing better work than last year — but you get ups and downs.”

Hegarty has the benefit of the long view, founding BBH in 1982 and keeping it independent. “One of the problems in the UK is that there aren’t enough people starting agencies with passionate beliefs,” he warns. “I think there are lots of people who are starting agencies who are desperate to make money. But money is a tool, not a philosophy. Consequently, you don’t get that commitment to creativity.”

Cannes could do with more of Hegarty’s passion.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Unilever Taps Facebook Masses to Give Water to 500 Million (AdAge, By Jack Neff)

When Unilever launched its Sustainable Living Plan in late 2010, perhaps the most ambitious goal was to provide safe drinking water by 2020 to 500 million people -- more than currently live in South America. Now the consumer packaged-goods giant is tapping Facebook's 900 million global users for help.

Unilever Global Marketing and Communications Officer Keith Weed was expected to announce the not-for-profit WaterWorks partnership with Facebook and Population Services International during a presentation at the International Advertising Festival in Cannes on Friday morning.

Through a Facebook app and the website,, users can donate between 10 euro cents to 1 euro daily (about $1.27) via Facebook Credits (or ultimately other means). They can direct contributions to individual WaterWorkers, who will distribute Unilever's PureIt water purification products. In their newsfeeds, they'll get photos and updates both from the aid workers and the people and villages they help.

Keith Weed
It's a social-media twist on a charitable-marketing approach long used by another Unilever sustainability partner -- Save the Children. And in an interview Thursday before his talk, Mr. Weed said the program has been embraced personally by Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who met with him and other members of the social-network's client council earlier this week in Cannes.

Beyond goodwill, it's not clear how much Unilever or Facebook benefit financially from WaterWorks. Facebook is phasing out Credits, so introducing more users to it won't be strategic. Though the program will include Facebook ads, it's run through the Unilever Foundation, a not-for-profit arm that reports to Mr. Weed, who also oversees sustainability efforts.

Asked how WaterWorks helps Unilever's brands and business, Mr. Weed said: "Not at all."

That's probably what tax collectors want to hear, since the Unilever Foundation is a tax-free not-for-profit. It may not be what shareholders want. But Unilever likely does get some benefit, beyond the warm feeling.
The company gets 54% of its sales from developing markets today, among the highest ratios among any global marketer. Water is one of the biggest and most life-threatening problems facing Unilever's consumers there.

"The biggest killer in the world still is water-borne diseases," Mr. Weed said. "Every 20 seconds a child dies of water-borne diseases."

In Mumbai, he said, people only get two hours of public running water daily. "They move water around the city, and if the water is on between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., that's when you're day starts. … That's now. What happens when there are 2.5 billion more people?"

Since announcing its water goal in November 2010, Unilever is 40 million people on its way toward its goal. "So between now and 2020, I've got quite a lot to do to get to 500 million," Mr. Weed said. "I decided the only way to do this is to get to the masses … through charitable work. And we started discussions with Facebook to co-create this idea."

Facebook has attracted plenty of critics lately, but Mr. Weed isn't among them. "I'm a great supporter of social media generally and Facebook specifically," he said. "Certainly we have found ways that the Ben & Jerrys of the world or local brands like Marmite can engage beyond the 30-second ad."

As he sees it, if bigger brands don't get the scale to make Facebook a major piece of the marketing mix, some of the blame may lie with marketers. "What we need to get our mind around is we need to develop creative for social media," he said. "Social media by design, and why care/why share are all very important things."

More broadly, digital is still trumped by TV and traditional media broadly in Unilever's marketing budgets, though in the U.S. he said it matches the roughly 30% share that consumers spend in media time online. In India, where consumers spend 4% of their media time online, the digital share is more like 4%, he said.
Can he envision a world where digital becomes the bulk of spending for the world's second-biggest advertiser? Yes, Mr. Weed said, but first marketing and the world will have to change a bit.

"Our biggest challenge is to have always-on quality content, which is cost effective," he said. "Right now you can pick two of the three, but you can't get all three. You can be always on and quality, but it's going to cost me money. Or you can be always on and cost effective, but you're not going to have quality."

Unilever's content partnerships with the likes of Viacom and News Corp., he said, are part of addressing that challenge. Another challenge is making mobile marketing work, addressing the mode by which the next two billion consumers in the world will likely get online, he said.

And the third change is the convergence of digital and traditional media, which may render the question moot by eliminating the distinction. "I can imagine in the next few years the distinction between traditional and digital disappears, because whatever you have on your device will also be on your TV," Mr. Weed said. "The moving picture on a flat screen is alive and well," he said, by whatever means it's delivered.

Of course, the digital revolution may have to wait until delegates leave Cannes. Mr. Weed originally planned to invite the Cannes audience to sign up directly for WaterWorks, displaying the profiles of people who did so instantly on the screen. Given the reality of spotty wireless and internet connections in Cannes, however, he may scrap that part of the presentation -- but Unilever will still match the contributions made by the audience.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Cannes 2012: Loving thy brands (afaqs, By Anushree Bhattacharyya)

At the 59th International Festival of Creativity, Keith Weed, chief marketing and communication officer, Unilever and Marc Mathieu, senior vice-president, marketing, Unilever spoke on the topics, 'Crafting brands for life: How Unilever is reinventing marketing'. Together, they discussed the key factors of marketing and what companies should do for not only richer dividends but for better future.
Usually products are created for sale, but now companies are creating products to be loved and cherished for life. In this process, some products are disliked, therefore FMCG companies are looking for products and solutions that will allow sustainable growth. At the 59th International Festival of Creativity, Keith Weed, chief marketing and communication officer, Unilever and Marc Mathieu, senior vice-president, marketing, Unilever spoke on the topics, 'Crafting brands for life: How Unilever is reinventing marketing'.
Together, they discussed the key factors of marketing that Unilever follows and what should companies do for not only richer dividends but for better future.
Weed said, "As marketers, people should have long-term vision. They should be able to understand in which direction the world is moving and hence work towards achieving sustainable growth. They should understand that demand-led growth is no longer enough as now everyone is looking for social and environment-led growth as well. The job of the marketers is to walk ahead of the consumers and identify what they need."
He next gave the example of William Lever, one of the founders of Unilever, and how he fought the issue of hygiene through the launch of detergent Sunlight during the time of the industrial revolution in England. The company since then has become the largest producer of soaps and detergents and continues its battle with hygiene.
"Developing and emerging markets are growing at a fast pace. While at present half of the middle class consumers belong to Asia, by 2030, the number will increase to 42 per cent and by 2050, is touted to go to 54 per cent. By 2050, it is estimated that the world population will grow to 9.5 billion people from the present 7.2 billion people. While people are now driving the business, companies should now look at reducing the environment load and increasing the social impact."
According to him, companies should now invest in building brands that are loved as consumers are no longer just buyers, they are real people with real lives. Companies should focus on establishing empathy.
Taking forward the concept of 'Love brands', Mathieu shared certain points that can be adopted by marketers of other brands. "At Unilever, our brands bring together a superior product to buy into. Also, we engage our brands' users to build brands. Then companies should nurture brands' DNA for generations to come," he added.
Furthermore, he emphasised that companies should focus on building brands that people can't live without. "Marketers should concentrate on making the brand an integral part of the consumer's life, so much so that they can't live without your brand. They should unlock the magic of the brand and this can be achieved through communication. The communication designed for the brand should be able to gain the trust of the consumer, it should be able to create an emotional connect. Overall, one integrated brand experience should be created," added Mathieu.
According to Mathieu, marketing is a craft experience, and those who are involved in the process should be confident of moving fast and should be ready to experience new things and further spread it across the world.
At the end, Weed talked about a new initiative called 'Water Worker', which the company has begun in collaboration with PSI and Facebook, wherein once a user of the social network site clicks on the brand's page, she gets an option to participate by donating any amount of money. With the donation, poor people are given the water purifier from Unilever. "The idea here is to provide clean drinking water to everybody. The global foundation will work to create a better world," remarked Weed.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Business, sustainability and children (The Guardian, By Maritza Ascencios for UNICEF)

Ahead of Rio+20, a twitter chat gave audiences the opportunity to question leading CSR figures from Unilever and UNICEF, and learn more about children's rights, business and sustainability

Businesses small and large inevitably interact with and have an effect on the lives of children both directly and indirectly. With 2.2 billion children under 18 years old – almost one third of the world's population – businesses should consider children as they develop their sustainability strategies.
As part of the Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum, UNICEF, the UN Global Compact and Save the Children will bring together business leaders at a panel event to discuss why business should consider children as they develop their sustainability strategies. The event, taking place on 17 June, is set to engage business leaders and other stakeholders to explore how their decisions can maximise the positive impacts and minimise the negative impacts on children. In the lead up to the Rio event, UNICEF hosted a Twitter chat which aimed to open up the conversation and encourage questions on children's rights, business and sustainability, to the groups most affected – children and young people.

Suba Jayasekaran, CSR specialist from UNICEF and Keith Weed, chief marketing and communications officer from Unilever, explained how businesses can step up their efforts to respect and support children's rights in the workplace, marketplace and community. For UNICEF, the framework for business to respect and support children's rights is the Children's Rights and Business Principles, which outlines specific business actions that can be taken. Recognising children as key stakeholders is essential around issues such as youth, child labour, child protection, health and nutrition.

The role of small business
Asked how the millions of small businesses can get more involved, UNICEF responded that it provides tools and guides for small business to begin learning more. Participants responded that a problem for small business is that many are unaware of the issues and thus will never seek tools. In order to promote the involvement of businesses effectively to achieve more impact, Unilever indicated that businesses need to engage on the whole value chain, citing an example of working with more than one million smallholder farmers. For UNICEF, work at country level through different platforms and associations provide other opportunities to engage small business and national companies.
To encourage traditional profit-driven businesses to engage more deeply in children rights, Unilever replied that for businesses to be sustainable the issues involve not just today's customers, but also tomorrow's customers and workers. This is especially relevant given the transparency and memory of the Internet age because businesses will be held to account.
Marketing to children
Another challenging question concerned Unilever's position regarding the marketing of food to children. Weed pointed out Unilever's global marketing code which guides marketing – for example, this guide ensures no marketing to children under the age of six and strict standards exist for marketing to children between six and 12. A subsequent question on heavily branded corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities aimed at the youth by the tobacco and alcohol industry elicited a response from UNICEF pointing to principle six of the Children's Rights & Business Principles on marketing and advertising that respects children's rights and promotes positive living.

How sustainable should a business be?
The question of how a business gauges how sustainable, ethical or responsible is 'enough' garnered a response from Unilever that in a resource-constrained world, decoupling growth from environmental impact is essential. Sustaining growth without having a negative impact on the environment while delivering increased social value is the approach Unilever is taking. In November 2010, Unilever launched its Sustainable Living Plan which is its business model that commits the company to a ten-year journey towards sustainable growth.
In support of such efforts, UNICEF has just released Children are Everyone's Business, a practical handbook to help companies understand and address their impact on children's rights.
With participants from 59 countries joining in to learn and challenge business, the twitter chat generated interest from around the globe in advance of Rio+20 conference.
Businesses represented at the Rio+20 panel event - Children and Business: Making the Connection to Sustainability - will consider these and other issues with speakers from corporations including Grupo Arcor, Ikea and Novo Nordisk.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Talking with our Marketer of the Year, Keith Weed (Marketing Society)

Congratulations to Keith Weed, Unilever’s CMO who was awarded Marketer of the Year. Earlier in the year before his appearance at our Annual Conference, he talked to Marketing Society editor, Elen Lewis about cheese, instinct and sustainability.
The Marketing Society Marketer of the Year award is decided by a select panel of judges. It recognises an individual for their achievements and contribution to the industry over the past year.
In a closely-fought contest, Keith Weed, Unilever’s global chief marketing and communications officer, stood out for the judges. He is the driving force behind the brand-owner’s ambitious plans for sustainable living, an initiative launched at the end of 2010 by its chief executive, Paul Polman.
Weed is also pivotal in Unilever’s aim to double its sales and halve its environmental impact by 2020. He has set the standard for corporate social responsibility (CSR), not just in the UK, but across the globe.
In the past year, Weed, who also oversees all branding and PR activities at the company, has championed the philosophy that brands should build CSR into all their working practices rather than have standalone departments. It is using CSR to drive growth of the business by catering to consumers’ needs.
One such example is the soap Lifebuoy. Unilever is putting its weight behind the product in developing markets, highlighting how washing your hands with soap can help to stop infectious diseases spreading. The company also aims to ensure that all its Lipton teabags will be sourced sustainably by 2015.
Before taking on the chief marketing position in 2010, Weed was Unilever’s European vice-president for global homecare and hygiene, and has worked for the business in the UK, France and the US.
Unilever’s plan to take a ‘more magic, less logic’ approach to marketing, an initiative led by the brand’s senior vice-president of marketing, Marc Mathieu, is overseen by Weed. The aim is to shake up Unilever’s numbers-led strategy to reward marketers who are prepared to take risks, and back creative ideas. The brand has created a 10-year plan, designed to ‘enable marketers to fail’, where previously they had been ’scared’ to.
At a time when many marketers have complained privately that the industry is becoming too focused on ‘meaningless metrics’ at the expense of creativity, Weed’s vision has resonated strongly among fellow marketers.
Judges remarked that Weed is revered by Unilever staff and the wider marketing industry alike.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Marketing Society recognises McDonalds and Keith Weed (Mail Media Centre)

The Marketing Society has awarded Unilever's global marketing and communication chief Keith Weed the coveted Marketer of the Year accolade, and McDonald's and its agency Leo Burnett the Grand Prix award for their slow but sure transformation of the brand, in its annual awards.

Keith Weed was recognised for driving Unilever's ambitious sustainability plans at the dinner last night (June 11).
McDonalds was rewarded for the transformation of the brand, hit hard by the 2005 Morgan Spurlock film 'Supersize Me', which triggerd a slump in sales.

The new brand strategy turned this decline around, and McDonald's has seen 24 months of continuous growth.
The judges said McDonalds is: "A business at the top of its game, with campaigns demonstrating terrific integration. A phenomenal story."

Hugh Burkitt, Marketing Society chief executive, said: "This is a clear demonstration of its skill in consistently delivering a high-quality branded service – one of today’s most important and elusive marketing skills."
The fast-food giant also won the Long-Term Marketing Excellence and Employee Engagement Awards.
Other notable winners included Foster’s and its agency Adam & Eve for its comedy-themed campaign using a pair of Aussie no worries agony uncles sipping tinnies in a beach hut.

The Independent's i and its agency McCann Erickson won the new brand award, and John Lewis won the Marketing Communications Award for ‘Never knowingly undersold’.

The full list of winners:
Grand Prix: McDonald’s
Marketer of the Year: Keith Weed
Customer Insight: TfL
New Brand / Business: Independent Print
Brand Extension: Kraft Foods
Brand Revitalisation: Heineken
Marketing Communications: John Lewis
Marketing on a Shoestring: Headway
Social Media Marketing: Coca-Cola
Mobile Marketing:
Content Marketing: British Heart Foundation
E-Commerce: John Lewis
Customer Relationship Marketing: Skipton Financial Services
Employee Engagement: McDonald's
Marketing Leadership: Symantec
Marketing Teamwork: Thorntons
Marketing for Sustainable Consumption: Lafarge
Caused Related Marketing: Aviva
Global Marketing: The Edrington Group
Not-For-Profit Marketing: Barnardo’s
Long Term Marketing Excellence: McDonald’s
B2B Marketing: Everything Everywhere
SME Marketing: Freestyle Xtreme
Young Marketer of the Year: Heather Corbett – Cohn & Wolfe
Finance Director’s Award: Dr Pepper -Gamification for Salesification- How online gaming drove offline sales for Dr Pepper.
Best Leading Edge Thinking: ASOS

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Marriage of Minds (Marketing Week, By Nicola Smith)

Keith Weed joined Unilever in 1983 and, after a variety of global and regional management and marketing roles, has been the company’s chief marketing and communications officer since March 2010.
“Before being appointed CMO, I ran some large businesses within Unilever, so I was aware of IT and the chief information officer. What has changed over the last 10 years is that we now see IT more as a source of competitive advantage, rather than a cost.
I was clear from the start that I needed IT at the table to achieve our vision. I could see straight away that the growth of digital and social media offered incredibly exciting opportunities to foster dialogue and generate brand advocacy. But while we already had pockets of great success, there was an opportunity to do more - and Mark McClennon understood this. It was a realisation that if we wanted to fulfil our ambition of being one of the best marketing companies in the world, we needed to reposition IT from necessary evil to true competitive advantage. We knew that building a stronger information capability was going to be pivotal for us.
One of my secrets is that I’m an engineer by training so the world of technology isn’t that foreign to me. Also, from the start we had a shared vision for what we wanted to achieve, so communication was fairly straightforward. Mark is an integral part of my team; his insight is always welcome and expected.
One of the big differences is around speed. We have a great IT team but they were often used to working to the beat of an internal drum - in marketing, we have to move at the pace of our consumers, which is much more real time. We are now finding new ways of working that enable us to turn around activities in days and weeks, rather than months and years, which is exactly what we need.
I think of Mark as part of my core team so we’ll speak often. I can’t really see how any business hoping to be successful these days can do it without IT at its side.”
Mark McClennon has been chief information officer at Unilever since January 2011. He was previously vice-president, head of IT for Unilever in North America.
“The day that Keith was announced as CMO he called me and said he had the greatest role ever for me: to help him take marketing in Unilever to the next level, with technology at the heart of many of the changes. At the time I was CIO of our North American business and fairly settled in the US, but the role was too good to turn down.
To work successfully, we had to make it a true partnership. From day one, the whole of the senior marketing leadership embraced the idea of working closely.
This ensured that IT had a seat at the table for all the core business debates and that we were not an afterthought. Wherever possible we sit in the marketing team rather than separately, and I probably speak to Keith or someone in his marketing leadership team on a daily basis.
There is this fallacy of IT people sitting in basements surrounded by dismantled PCs. I’ve spent the last 20 years of my career mostly in IT - the last four on the board in a $10bn organisation - mainly working on real business issues. Most of my peers in Unilever IT have similar backgrounds and all my team members move easily between IT and marketing.
One of the biggest cultural differences between the functions is the approach to experimentation. In a digital world, you have to be able to experiment. Many of us in IT had lost the ability to do this as the core of our agenda had been largely around large-scale internal programmes. Working closely with the marketing team has helped us to rediscover a passion for the art of the possible within IT and push back the boundaries.”