Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Keith Weed: Reflects on Universal Children’s Day (TriplePundit)

“There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children. There is no duty more important than ensuring that their rights are respected, that their welfare is protected, that their lives are free from fear and want and that they grow up in peace.”

Today is Universal Children’s Day, and these words spoken by Kofi Annan have never sounded more relevant. Every day, on the news and on social media, we see pictures and read stories of famine and floods, droughts and demonstrations; confronting us with the effects of increasing resource scarcity, climate change, food security, civil unrest and poverty. We are increasingly aware of the people left behind.

Many people wonder how we are going to address these challenges, which can feel overwhelming, confusing and insurmountable.

At Unilever, we think that the answer is in our children.

Read the full blog here.

Keith Weed: A Bright Future For All - Building Our Business Responsibly (Business Fights Poverty)

Every day, when watching the news and checking the social channels, we see pictures and read stories of famine and floods, droughts and demonstrations, confronting us with the effects of increasing resource scarcity, climate change, food security, civil unrest and poverty. We see the increasing numbers of people left behind.

Many wonder how on earth we all are going to address these challenges. They feel overwhelming and confusing. This can sometimes feel very depressing, but we should not lose sight of the fact that there is also plenty of 'good' to write home about. 

Read the full blog here.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

How Unilever Topped The Awards Report Chart (Advertising Age, Jack Neff)

CMO Weed Reveals Secret of Jumping From No. 8 to No. 1

When Keith Weed stepped into his job as Unilever's chief marketing and communications officer in 2010, the company had just been named Advertiser of the Year at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. But within a year, Unilever's award tallies slipped and by 2012 Unilever came in eighth overall in our Award Report rankings for campaigns like Dove "Real Beauty Sketches" and Ragu's "Long Days of Childhood."

Mr. Weed was determined to do something about that fall. And he's clearly delivered; this year Unilever is sitting pretty at the top of our list. More surprisingly, Mr. Weed managed this feat while stepping up copy testing and restraining agency and production fees.

Part of the success, he said, stems from Unilever's goal of doubling sales and increasing positive social impact while halving its environmental impact, which has inspired and motivated its ranks. The company has also boosted internal creativity by training 80% of its 6,500 marketers on his "Crafting Brands for Life" strategy.

Read the full article here.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Mobile is going to have a bigger impact than the Internet (The Drum, Stephen Lepitak)

"Mobile is going to have a bigger impact than the Internet," Unilever CMO Keith Weed talks new brand strategy, sustainability and the power of mobile

Crafting Brands for Life has been the marketing strategy global consumer goods supplier Unilever has adopted in recent months as it becomes a company that aims to make a difference and affect change in the lives of its customers, as well as selling their products to them.

The strategy is being led by Keith Weed, chief marketing officer for Unilever, who, when The Drum catches up with him in the press room at Dmexco in Cologne, has already been for a three mile run, held a couple of meetings and delivered the keynote talk for the conference. All this and it’s only 11am. This is a man who travels the world constantly, and is literally always on the move.

Despite the constant demand for his attention, Weed is found to be an enthusiastic and breezy individual, who has also been heading up the company’s sustainability effort, which he needs no excuse to talk about.

“According to WWF we are living off two-and-a-half planets. If the world lived like Europeans we'd need three planets and if the world lived like Americans we'd need five planets,” he tells The Drum, explaining that his role was created to combine overseeing the marketing, sustainability and communications coming out of Unilever.

Read the full article here.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Unilever concerned by fragmentation (Warc)

SINGAPORE: Unilever, the FMCG giant, regards the fragmentation of media channels as one of its biggest communications challenges as it moves to an "always-on" marketing approach, according to two senior executives.

"The thing that keeps me awake at night is integration versus fragmentation," Keith Weed, chief marketing and communications officer, told Campaign Asia-Pacific, as he outlined the need "to hold our brands together" and make them consistent and relevant "in a market and media that's fragmenting".

He foresaw "some sort of coming together on the agency side so there is an overall ownership/leadership of our brand idea and communication".

And he was emphatic on the need for a brand-centric approach, saying that "optimisation is done for the brand and not for the channel".

His colleague Luis di Como, senior vice president global media, agreed on the scale of the task posed by integration, but argued that it was also an opportunity as brands could use paid, owned and earned media to achieve personalisation at scale and bring together content and context.

He added that brands were now operating in a more real-time environment which changed the nature of campaigns, a point echoed by Weed, who said regular big marketing campaigns were no longer enough as brands had to reach out to consumers "24/7" via mobile and social media.

This socialisation of marketing had also led to creativity increasing in importance as brands needed to break through the growing clutter to earn the right to be noticed or engaged with.

Weed also observed that while Unilever wanted to be where its consumers were, whether TV, social or mobile, it also wanted to be ahead of them. "The role of marketing is to have a point of view on the future," he noted.

"We want to get to the future first .. [but] it can't be too far ahead," he added.

He referred to several instances where Unilever was achieving this, whether by the allocation of budget to digital – 30% in the US, low single digits in India – or the geographical shift in marketing emphasis – there are now more staff in the Singapore and Mumbai head offices than in the global head office.

Data sourced from Campaign Asia-Pacific; additional content by Warc staff

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Unilever targets Asian mobile users (Warc)

MUMBAI: Unilever, the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant, has announced plans for a new mobile marketing initiative aimed at shoring up its sales position in Asia, with a particular focus on India, China and Indonesia.

The company has teamed up with Brandtone, the Dublin-based mobile specialists, to support its expansion into these markets – plus the US – while also building on their existing relationship in other key emerging markets, such as Brazil, Russia and Turkey.

The company expects to use Brandtone's technology to contact consumers who have agreed to receive offers and rewards in exchange for their profile information, the Wall Street Journal reported, and low-end mobile phone users will be the main target of this initiative.

Keith Weed, Unilever's chief marketing officer, said the communications were "something that can be done through a text," and therefore did not require customers to have a smartphone.

With over half of Unilever's turnover already coming from emerging markets, Weed added: "Mobile provides a direct means of engagement with almost every consumer in those countries, and it is therefore absolutely critical for our brands' growth."

He explained that people are willing to share information in order to get more relevant advertising and offers, which provided opportunities as long as the company approached them with respect, maintained trust and ensured a "two-way dialogue."

"By building relationships with our consumers and adding something of value to them we can increase both purchase and brand loyalty," Weed added.

There are more than 2bn mobile phone users in India and China. The new campaign suggests that Unilever believes this initiative is a useful way of reaching consumers who are not always accessible via TV ads.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal, The Drum; additional content by Warc staff

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Unilever's Keith Weed puts mobile at heart of emerging markets strategy (Marketing, Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith)

Unilever's chief marketing officer Keith Weed has placed mobile marketing at the heart of the company's strategy for engaging with consumers in emerging markets.

Weed announced a strategic partnership with mobile marketing company Brandtone last night (24 September), which will see both companies expand their reach across 10 different markets, including India, China and Indonesia.

Over half of Unilever’s turnover comes from emerging markets, Weed said, which is expected to grow to around 75% over the coming years.

Read the full article here.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Unilever CMO defends controversial Marmite, Lynx and Pot Noodle ads (Marketing Week, Lara O'Reilly)

DMEXCO: Unilever’s chief marketing and communications officer Keith Weed has defended his company’s recent run of ads that have drawn complaints from viewers, saying while the brands are genuinely sorry for any offense caused, “we won’t please all people all the time”.

Recent controversial campaigns include a Pot Noodle ad the advertising regulator classed “crass and degrading” , Lynx campaigns that have been accused of “promoting racial stereotypes” and “objectifying women” and a Marmite TV campaign that racked up 504 complaints.
Speaking to Marketing Week at the Dmexco conference in Cologne, Weed disagreed the company produces “controversial” ads.
He said: “We are a very broad base consumer goods business, hence we advertise to lots of people and within that, we won’t please all people all the time.''

“Having said that, if we ever do cause any offense we take that seriously and are genuinely sorry.”
He pointed out in the “End Marmite Neglect” example - which was cleared by the Advertising Standards Authority in spite of the high complaint numbers - many people “loved” the ad because it fitted with its “You either love it or hate it” tagline and that it did not draw any complaints from charities like the RSPCA.

On Lynx, which has often had ads banned by the regulator over the years, Weed said the company has to make stand-out campaigns for its target audience to achieve cut through.

He added: “Lynx is about giving confidence to young guys in a very challenging part of their lives, that isn’t a bad thing. How do you engage? If you did it in a boring way, they wouldn’t notice
“And who buys Lynx? Mum buys Lynx…I guarantee Mum would not buy Lynx if she was embarrassed to see it in her in shopping trolley.”

“[The marketing is] slightly tongue in cheek and slightly hyberbole. We don’t intend to offend people but [some of these campaigns] are appropriate for our brands, target audience and bring a level of enjoyment, a smile and humour to people’s lives”.

Weed was speaking to Marketing Week shortly after he gave his keynote at the conference. Entitled “Yours Digitally”, his presentation outlined the three pillars behind Unilever’s “crafting brands for life” strategy: putting people first, building brand love and “unlocking the magic”.

He cited brand case studies including Dove’s “Real Beauty” ad, which achieved 3.8 billion global impressions, becoming the most watched online ad in history, Cornetto’s “Cupidity” campaign and the current Lynx’s Apollo Space Academy activity.

Weed told Marketing Week such stand-out marketing and Unilever’s point of difference, its “Sustainable Living Plan”, have seen Unilever become the second most searched-for brand for marketing careers behind Google on LinkedIn.

“It’s not Facebook, it’s not Microsoft, it’s Unilever. I think it’s because we’re about a different business model, serving customers in a different and sustainable way,” he added.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Dmexco 2013: Unilever’s Keith Weed Calls For Magic And Logic From Digital Marketing (, Michael Nutley)

Marketing is a mixture of magic and logic, and digital marketing can deliver both.

That was the key message in the opening keynote of the 2013 Dmexco show, given by Unilever CMCO Keith Weed.

“I don’t have a particular love for digital,” Weed said, “but I love what it can do.”

He went on to say that his ambition was to have people know and love Unilever for what they do in digital and mobile the way they currently do in TV.

He outlined how Unilever’s strategy, “Crafting brands for life” is applied online across its three pillars; Putting People First, Building Brand Love and Unlocking The Magic.

“Putting people first is about how people live and how we engage with them. For example, Dove stands for real beauty and real care. Digital allowed us to create a movement. Dove Sketches is the fourth most shared ad ever. That’s the magic; imagine trying to engage that many people on TV or in print. The logic is that it has had 170m views and is the most watched online ad of all time.

“Building brand love - you need a great product for people to buy, but you also need a great idea for them to buy into. Lifebuoy is a disinfectant soap and it’s a big brand in Africa and Asia. We’ve taught 30m people to wash their hands because one of the best things you can do to improve health is washing your hands properly.”

Weed gave two examples of unlocking the magic. The first was the Cupidity campaign for ice cream brand Cornetto, which featured four short films about teenage love. The second was the Axe Apollo Space Academy campaign, which Weed described as bringing magic and logic together. The campaign will end with 22 young men being sent up into space.

“A campaign like this is only possible if you can achieve reach and leverage the huge investment,” he said.

Friday, 26 July 2013

D&AD - The White Pencil: Panel Session on Sustainability

Launched to reward creativity for social good, the D&AD White Pencil has inspired a bigger conversation.  One that articulates the ambitions of a new generation of design and advertising talent: creativity for social change - purpose beyond profit.

Watch the panel session here.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Brand Equity : Chats With Keith Weed (Part two - YouTube video)

View part two of the interview with Brand Equity here

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Brand Equity: In Conversation with Keith Weed (YouTube video)

View Keith Weed's conversation on the importance of sustainability, responsible capitalism and mobile as an enabler in today's world. View the video here

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Unilever marketing chief Keith Weed warns brands must become a 'force for good' (Marketing, By Alex Brownsell)

Unilever's top marketer Keith Weed has called on brands to respond to social unrest around the world by "re-thinking" their business models and becoming a "force for good".
In the wake of mass public protests in countries such as Turkey, Brazil and Egypt, Unilever’s chief marketing and communications told an audience at ISBA’s annual lunch in London today (2 July) that businesses must change their practises if their brands are to get off the "back foot".

The marketer said that Unilever is moving from a mind-set of "social responsibility" to one of "social accountability", and that businesses have no option but to build their operations around a sustainable premise.

People have stopped asking, ‘who is in charge?’ and they are taking matters into their own hands.

Weed said: "We are in the grip of political and economic uncertainty. Unemployment is high, geo-political tensions are high, and at the same time the growth we are all going for is coming at an enormous cost to our planet," he said.
"We face these issues at a time when trust in our institutions and businesses is at an historic low, with daily scandals, whether it be around oil leaks, horse meat or fixing the inter-bank lending rate.

"The result is that people have stopped asking, ‘who is in charge?’ and they are taking matters into their own hands, aided by the escalation of social media. Companies such as ours are thinking about the kinds of practical solutions we could offer," said Weed.

Negative message

Referring to Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan, in which the FMCG giant has set itself a number of targets to reach to 2020, Weed criticised those who view sustainability as a purely negative message.

"Too much of the debate right now is all about what you can’t do – it’s prescriptive, you should consume less, etcetera. But there are lots of things you can do, and it’s about promoting how we can consume differently," he said.

"I think brands have a really big role in all of this: brands can be a force for change and for good. If we bring movements for social change around our brands, then we can connect with this challenge."

Weed ended his speech by arguing that the business world is "at a crossroads" and the time has come for marketers to devise a new approach.

"Today’s adult generation has stolen from our children’s future financially, with the credit crunch and beyond, and we’ve also stolen from our children’s future environmentally.

Together, I believe we can make things better for consumers and grow our businesses at the same time."

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Q&A: Unilever CMO Keith Weed (Marketing Week, by Rosie Baker)

Unilever global CMO Keith Weed talks about humanising digital marketing, experimentation and the technologies that are exciting him.

Marketing Week (MW): Is the pace of change facing the marketing industry exciting or scary for marketers?

Keith Weed: Things have changed so much in the last 10 years, the last five years, and the last three years. What’s happening is the twin peaks of the growth of globalisation and the growth of technology, they are feeding off each other. The more global you can become the more digital you can become and vice versa. It’s scary if you’re caught in the middle. If you’re niche it’s OK and if you’ve got scale it’s OK. So with a €6bn budget if I can’t be experimenting and testing the future then shame on me. But you can’t do that if you’re medium sized.

KW: What you need to do is remember what we’re [Unilever] doing. At the end of the day we are serving consumers and building brands. If you remember those two things it guides you through what is a challenging time for marketers. Just because you can do everything, doesn’t mean you should. I think being choosey is becoming a bigger part of what a marketer has to do.

The first thing I’d say [about experimentation] is fish where the fish are. There are a lot of interesting things you can do and of course you do need to experiment but you should look where consumers are engaging with brands and consuming media. In the US – if you look broadly at digital - people are spending about 30 per cent of their time in that area. So it’s not surprising a lot of US companies are spending about 30 per cent of their budget there. If you look across the world you see a huge difference. Based on infrastructure, penetration of internet or mobile or various reasons. In India you wouldn’t want to spend a fortune on internet where there is low penetration.

To this day the biggest and most powerful way to engage with people is TV advertising and it will remain so for the foreseeable future. However, it’s not the only way. We’ll see more and more campaigns that leverage many levers like social and mobile and video and that’s endlessly exciting. There are options [for experimentation] but they are not compulsory.

MW: There has also been a lot of conversation at Cannes this year about ‘humanising’ digital marketing. Do you think the way a lot of brands still approach integrates and digital is still a bit cold and not quite fitting with consumer behaviour?

KW: It’s a very good point and we talk about humanisation a lot internally. We talk about real people with real lives. We use the term ‘consumer’ less and less because it puts a label or a badge on people who are actually you, your mum, your sister, and your friend. We need to think about how people use social etc. to connect and engage with other people because in the same way they are engaging with people they are also engaging with brands. The conversation needs to be much more human than in can be an announcement style TV broadcast. We’ve learned that TV is giving you information but it isn’t the way you chat to your friend and it certainly isn’t the way you should talk to brands. People are real people – they are not heads of hair charging around looking for shampoo solutions, or a pair of armpits looking to be deodorised.

MW: What technology development excites you?

KW: There are two things really. The first is mobile and I know that everyone talks about mobile but the truth of the matter is it is barely leveraged. It will have as big an impact on marketers as the internet had. I was at CES in Las Vegas this year and at Mobile World Congress and while there are lots of brands at CES there are fewer at MWC so it hasn’t really got in people’s minds yet.

When I was a young marketer, I remember being jealous of retailers for having a direct interface with consumers, but now with mobile we [FMCG brands] can have that too. I think mobile is the most important thing because it’s about direct connection.

The other is an enabler for marketers - all the technology that enables marketers to really view and feed digital campaigns. The Dove Sketches campaign has just become the most viewed branded film ever with 145 million views around the world. We have a control room in the office where we monitor it all – it’s like air traffic control with screens and Twitter feeds from around the world. The views grew naturally but watching the data we could really dial up certain things as we learnt from each country. It’s the science of marketing.

MW: Dove and Lynx brand marketing is always held up by other brands as an example of great marketing but what brands in Unilever’s portfolio are more challenging and where you still have to find the big idea?

KW: We have 14 €1bn brands. We want that to be 20, then 30. In an increasingly joined up world the opportunity to have a bigger, more cohesive brand is there but also it’s more challenging. As always, you need to have big ideas but increasingly you need brands with a certain level of purpose and depth. If I take Ono/Persil Dirt is Good campaign as an example, I could be telling you Persil washes whiter – indeed it does, it’s a great product and a great brand but the fact that we go further to engage on the experience between families and the experience of going out and getting dirty under the Dirt is Good banner means we can go on to talk about child development and have a much deeper relationship [with the consumer]. [Unilever runs advice and research programmes to encourage active development and outdoor play.]

[As a brand] if you’re just talking about one product benefit you’re a bit like a person at a party telling the same joke over again. To start with people stand around and listen but by the end of the evening everyone will have gravitated away. Brands haven’t got that still. You’d think they would have but there are still a lot of brands telling the same thing over and over again. Repetition is good but if you go too far it becomes boredom and in the social world people don’t have to listen - they walk away. If you want to engage people you have to be engaging and brands with a bit more depth do better.

MW: What are the biggest challenges in the UK specifically and have they changed over the past year?

KW: Our biggest opportunity is also our biggest challenge and in the UK it’s mobile.

There is a significant penetration of smartphones and 3G in the UK which means you can get really good quality engagement through mobile. The biggest challenge is to unlock the mobile opportunity – we are in the foothills of mobile.

Three years ago I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time taking our senior marketers around Silicon Valley to meet the big digital firms like Google. We had a fleeting meeting with an upcoming company called Twitter and we happened to drop in to see Apple when it was developing iAd. It is to this day by far the best mobile smartphone ad platform that there is. Eighty per cent of success is showing up, they say, and I showed up and sealed the deal on the day. We’re still the largest advertiser on the platform. A lot of people have challenged it as to whether it’s a good part of the overall mix as it’s seen as expensive, but to me its value rather than expense. Consumers are spending over a minute in an iAd with Unilever products.

That’s exactly why you should experiment. We are proud of being first – we had the first black and white TV ad, first colour TV ad in the UK, and the first iAd.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Keith Weed: Mobile is the next big medium (First Post, by Pavni Mittal)

Unilever’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Keith Weed dwells on the importance of mobile in this interview to Storyboard.

Find out why one of the world’s largest advertisers deems mobile to be the next big medium for marketing. Also, how a company deals with the negatives of social media.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Optimism in the Air at Cannes Advertising Festival (Wall Street Journal, by Ruth Bender)

CANNES, France—Waterfront parties at the annual advertising festival here this year have been bursting with something more than industry executives: optimism about the economy.

Advertising agencies are often an early barometer of economic trends. Industry leaders WPP WPPGY -0.67% PLC and Publicis Groupe SA PUB.FR +1.65% have been feeling the pain from companies cutting back on spending, particularly in Europe, as recession bites across much of the region.

But even though Europe remains a thorn, signs that consumer confidence is returning in the U.S.—the world's largest ad market—and some small improvements in the euro zone have started to crystalize, ad executives said.

"The mood here is very positive," said Miles Young, chief executive of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, one of the largest advertising networks owned by WPP.

Much of the industry's enthusiasm also stems from its rush into digital advertising. Some of the world's largest advertisers, such as Unilever NV, UN +1.40% are investing in boosting their digital campaigns or testing the numerous new technologies available within the digital-ad world, led by a medium that remains still largely unexplored: mobile ads.

"For creativity, there couldn't be a better time. You have to make sure you do this well," said Unilever Chief Marketing Officer Keith Weed.

Ad forecaster Zenith Optimedia, a unit of Publicis, predicted that digital ads would be the key engine of growth when ad markets recover next year and in 2015, just as it helped stem some of the sharp revenue losses at the depths of the financial crisis in 2009.

When organic revenue fell 6.5% at Publicis and 8.1% at WPP during the crisis, there were no Champagne parties on rooftops in Cannes. But that has changed.

There was little evidence of a crisis along the shore during the festival. Attendance surged at least 9%12,000 this year, award entries reached record levels and the Cannes beach was filled with lavish parties all week. Rapper P Diddy and the Franz Ferdinand band were among the star attractions."Everyone is starting to see some recovery, even though it isn't as much as one would like to," said Michael Roth, chief executive of New York-based Interpublic Group IPG +1.05% of Cos.

Mr. Roth said his company saw good growth in European markets such as Germany, the U.K. and the Netherlands, though Southern Europe remained tough. Europe has probably hit a "low point," Mr. Roth said.

While meaningful growth was still nowhere in sight, recent data indicate that the euro-zone economy finally could be emerging from its longest postwar recession. The hope among many Europeans was that stronger global demand would spur growth in export-sensitive Germany, which accounts for around 30% of the euro zone's gross domestic product. That, in turn, could boost exports from its European neighbors and provide an overall boost to business confidence.

While highlighting that Southern and Western Europe were still very tough markets, WPP Chief Executive Martin Sorrell pointed to signs that matters were "a little bit better" in Spain, following recent policies put in place by the government.

The slightly more upbeat tone in Cannes has yet to translate into numbers for the ad market. Publicis's and IPG's ad forecasting units slightly lowered their forecasts for global ad spending, mainly to reflect the continuing recession in the euro-zone.

Ad executives said their clients were still cautious. "It's not a toothache anymore but still this permanent migraine in the background," said Mr. Young, of Ogilvy & Mather.

Still, top executives increasingly signaled that there are better times ahead.

Publicis CEO Maurice Levy raised his full-year targets slightly on Friday. Publicis probably will reach organic revenue growth, which strips out acquisitions and currency fluctuations, of around 3.5% to 3.6% for the full year, he said, the high end of the 3.2%-to-3.6% range Mr. Levy set earlier this year, mainly thanks to stronger growth in the U.S. and digital.

Mr. Levy said growth was "better than expected" in April and that second-quarter growth would be above the 1.3% posted in the first three months, with a gradual improvement over the coming quarters.

WPP recently said revenue trends had improved over the past two months, with a particular increase in growth in April.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Cannes 2013: What makes Axe click? (Campaign India, By Raahil Chopra)

Keith Weed, CMO, Unilever, spoke about the brand's communication strategy over the last 30 years.
Speaking at the Debussy on day four of the International Festival of Creativity 2013 in Cannes, Keith Weed, chief marketing officer, Unilever, discussed the secret behind Axe's success over the past thirty years.
He began his session by expressing his love for birthdays. "Axe shares its 30th birthday with Cannes Lions' 60th and the 120th birthday of Sunlight Soap. Sunlight is the first brand in my opinion. Before that, brands were named after the owner's name," recalled Weed.
30 years of Axe
Weed then brought out some milestones brand Axe has achieved since its launch. He said, "Axe has reached 1.8 billion consumers in 60 countries worldwide. Sixty per cent of the 12 to 16 age group in the UK uses Axe (called Lynx in the area). It's been the brand that has made teens to adults. All of this has been achieved with one single thought: 'Axe gives guys the edge with girls'."
"We've used the brand as a culture icon with courageous creatives and more recently looked to be connected everywhere. We have evolved with the youth. Our brand continues to target the youth, even though the youth of today is very different to 30 years ago," explained Weed.
He noted that the deo was launched in the 80's, when 'skin care was unheard of'. In the 90's, dating became an in thing among youngsters. Failure scared young boys; hence was born 'The Axe Effect'.

"We move with the times. When we knew it was time to respect women, we put them back at the pedestal and reflected relationships where girls were equal," he said.

He added, "We lead culture and not follow it. We spotted celebrities way before they've become superstars. We are a global brand with a local flavour. We've adopted our communication depending on the market, we are targeting."

Weed then took the audience through several campaigns from the inception of the brand.

He ended his session, by thanking all the agencies he has worked with for Axe with a special mention to BBH, Lowe and Ponce.

Dove Sketches marks future of creativity, says Unilever's Keith Weed (Campaign Live, By Magda Ibrahim)

Keith Weed, Unilever's chief marketing and communication officer, said the business is looking for "even more creativity and excellence" in advertising this year.

Describing the "quite intriguing" Dove 'Sketches' film – part of the company's' Campaign for Real Beauty' marketing drive – Weed said it was "quite frightening how critical we are about how we appear and how we judge ourselves".

The film which was created by Ogilvy & Mather and has had 14 5million views around the world, said Weed, shows a police sketch artist who normally works with crime victims, creating pictures from the descriptions that women give of themselves.

The artist then produces drawings using another person's description of the same woman, and the two images are compared.

Weed added: "This year, with a reasonably challenging market, to come up and break through the clutter we are looking for even more creativity and excellence in advertising."

Unilever's Axe/Lynx campaign, created by Bartle Bogle Hegarty, won three Promo and Activation Lions at Cannes 2013.


Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Unilever, Facebook: 'Brands can’t - and shouldn’t - try everything' (Marketing Week, By Rosie Baker)

Cannes Lions 2013: Brands should not be distracted adopting emerging technologies and marketing opportunities just because they are available, according to senior marketers from Unilever and Facebook.

Unilever CMO Keith Weed says being “choiceful” about which opportunities to pursue and which to disregard will become a bigger part of marketers’ responsibility as the industry is faced with so many more emerging opportunities.

Speaking to Marketing Week at the annual Cannes Lions event, he said: “What [marketers] need to do is remember what we’re doing. At the end of the day we are serving consumers and building brands. If you remember those two things it guides you through what is a challenging time for marketers. Just because you can do everything, it doesn’t mean you should.

“Fish where the fish are. There are a lot of interesting things you can do and of course you do need to experiment but you should look at where consumers are engaging with brands and consuming media.”

Weed cited an example of one of Unilever’s brands in the Indonesian market which suffered a decline in brand equity because there were eight separately created pieces of brand communications running at the same time. Each piece of communication was effective on its own but together it was fragmenting the brand.

He says: “Curating rather than creating brands is increasingly going to be the challenge for marketers … you’ve got to be careful that more is more, not more is less.”

Speaking on a separate panel debate, Mark D’Arcy, Facebook director of global creative solutions, advised brands not to get distracted by all the opportunities afforded to them.

He said: “[It’s about] sacrificing things. Looking at all the things you can do but just doing what actually matters. Not doing everything you can do, but stripping everything out and focusing on the one thing that matters.”

Speaking on the same panel, Facebook head of engineering and creator of the News Feed Andrew Bosworth said despite Facebook building the least functional photo sharing capability five years ago with low resolution photos and no additional tools, it grew to be bigger than all its rivals put together within two years because the one useful function it had was photo-tagging.

He added it didn’t matter that other services offered greater functionality because “all people wanted to do was tag and share their photos with friends”.

Unilever CMO Keith Weed at Cannes: Fighting Fragmentation with Creativity (Advertising Age)

Creativity is only more important in an increasingly cluttered world, Unilever CMO Keith Weed says in this video from the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. 

Cannes Lions 2013: Keith Weed on Dove's viral advert 'Sketches' (Youtube video)

Published on 19 Jun 2013
Keith Weed, Unilever's Chief Marketing & Communication Officer, talks about Dove's award winning viral advert 'Sketches'.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Unilever CMO Keith Weed says social media is the answer to driving sustainable behaviour change (Marketing Wee, by Rosie Baker)

The key to “mobilising the masses” is to encourage individuals to make small changes that collectively have a bigger impact on sustainability.

Speaking at the D&Ad White Pencil Laboratory event in London (11 June), Weed said: “If our problem is [that] individually we can’t solve our problems but collectively we can, then I believe social media is ultimately the answer, if we can get all of us to do sustainable things and realise small individual actions make a big difference collectively.”

Weed believes the best way to instigate a shift in consumer behaviour is to offer a clear and positive consumer benefit for making the change beyond its impact on sustainability, but says Unilever’s marketers are still struggling where there isn’t as clear a benefit to the consumer.

“Al Gore and ’The Inconvenient Truth’ [documentary] put a spotlight on [sustainability] but also frightened people off. It’s difficult to engage people around the negative because even motivated people will engage for a bit but then will run away,” he says.

Weed also admitted “not many” of its customers are aware of the efforts Unilever is making in this area but that by 2020 the Unilever corporate ‘U’ logo will be recognised by consumers and understood as a “seal of approval” that Unilever “has done its homework and works harder than anyone else [to improve sustainability]”.


Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Unilever's Sustainable Living Plan: The Challenges of Being Too Ambitious (By Aman Singh)

Unilever's Sustainable Living Plan was created and launched amid much fanfare in 2010. It was lauded for its ambitious goals, an exhaustive list of metrics and for its commitment to put sustainable and equitable growth at the heart of its business model.
This week, the consumer products company released its second progress report and it began with a stark statement from CEO Paul Polman:
“The world continues to face big challenges. The lack of access of many to food, nutrition, basic hygiene and sanitation, clean drinking water or a decent job should be a concern to all of us. We firmly believe business has a big role to play in striving for more equitable and sustainable growth, but large-scale change will only come about if there is real collaboration between companies, governments and NGOs across all these areas.”

 Now, the report is impressive, exhaustive and filled with data. So to get beyond the flash, the avalanche of numbers and statistics, I reached out to Keith Weed, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer also responsible for the Sustainable Living Plan, to discuss not only the challenges of reaching some of the goals Unilever is striving for by 2020 but also the successes, the unforeseen road bumps and the transformation the company is undergoing culturally because of the Plan.

To get started, here are the three overarching goals Unilever began its Plan with:

1.    Help more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being;

2.    Source 100 percent of agricultural raw materials sustainably;

3.    Halve the environmental footprint of its products across the value chain.

Ambition: Sustainability in Perspective 

"The report is indicative of what we're trying to do. We're trying to do things at scale. This is not a [standalone] CSR project in Africa but something that touches every single element across our value chain," he began.
It takes a mindset shift to put Unilever's plan in perspective. As Weed explained, "The idea that it isn’t just about the footprint of your facilities…we have to think all the way through the lifecycle of aproduct from consumer to facilities to sourcing to the impact of key productions. The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan guides our direction."
Did his team realize the magnanimity of the goals they were setting? "We knew that we couldn’t achieve all of them but that if we set them like this, we would find solutions along the way by working with others," he said, adding, "When you get interconnected, solutions and opportunities open up. That was the spirit we started with."

And the results encapsulated on Unilever's website and a 53-page PDF download, are in keeping with that spirit. "It's not about mechanically ticking off the targets and goals. OurSustainable Living Plan is a movement to get business to move toward socially and environmentally sustainable future," he clarified.

The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan: Highlights

First off, he reminds me that from the outset, the Plan set out the sustainability goals to be achieved alongside the mission set out in 2009 to double the business. "We serve two billion people a day and another 2.5 billion are expected to be added to the world's population by 2050. So our goal is to reduce our environmental footprint and increase our social impact while doubling our business."
The good news: "We have started to drive sustainability into the core of our business and today, our sustainability efforts are helping to drive business growth." One example is Unilever's popular Lifebouy soap, which was rebranded in 2010 with a social purpose alongside:

"[We went] from selling soap to encouraging people to wash their hands – and wash them correctly. And our efforts have resulted in double-digit growth over the last three years – and reaching millions with our Handwashing campaign. It's proving the coherence of our strategy of combining social impact with business growth instead of just a sales goal," Weed explained.

Other examples:

·         Laundry cleaner: Unilever increased its market share by 10 percentage points since 2010 to over 25 percent, with its concentrated liquids, which according to Weed carry a much lower carbon footprint in production and use.

·         Dry shampoos: A huge opportunity for the company, right now dry shampoos are mostly sold in the U.S. – where Unilever occupies a 75 percent market share. But as the company enters into more water-restricted countries, Weed predicted an accompanying increase in sales.  The environmental benefit? Compared to heated water, dry shampoo reduces CO2 by 90 percent through lower water usage and less heating of water for the shower. An added benefit for developing countries: water conservation.

·         Dove: The Self Esteem campaign continued to gain momentum with 62 percent of women who know of the campaign now recommending Dove to others. "The campaign started with the idea that we should think differently about how we portray beauty," said Weed, "Today, it’s a global movement."

·         Oral hygiene: Unilever's oral hygiene campaign helped its Signal brand grow by 22 percent in 2012. "People brush their teeth in the morning and evening, which requires more toothpaste, ergo a virtuous circle," contextualized Weed.

A Twist on Purposeful Cause Marketing?

So cause marketing spelt and implemented differently. By attaching value and impact with its core products, Unilever is addressing a question all consumer products companies continue to struggle with: how do you change consumer behavior to scale a company's sustainability efforts? 

For Unilever, this has meant active pairing of product and messaging with a focus on impact and growth, yet ultimate success is far away.
As Weed explained:

"This is a coherent strategy that works – we're increasing our social impact while growing our business. However, while we're making good progress, we're still facing challenges across the value chain, whether its with sourcing, food production or disposal." And each carries with it a nuanced set of challenges, a complex set of solutions and invariably a cobweb of marketing, brand positioning and partnerships.

"We have reduced our CO2 emissions, non-hazardous waste to landfill has been reduced in 50 percent of our factory sites, we're sourcing over a third of our agricultural raw material from sustainable sources, up from 14 percent when we started in 2010…yet we're miles away from our 2020 target of 100 percent," he offered.

Scaling Behavior: Easier Ideated than Done

Of course, a key ingredient in Unilever's Plan is the ability to scale. For the world's largest teaproducer, these achievements might mean small metrics today but when scaled are attribution to an entire value chain at work on technological improvements, environmental studies, and more. However, the opportunity is also a challenge:
"The sheer scale of our commitments is tremendous. For example, we want to be able to educate a billion people by 2020 on washing their hands correctly. That's a lot of people – despite the progress we've already made since 2010 – 224 million people across 17 countries as of 2012. Scale has been more challenging than we originally thought," Weed explained.
Another challenge: encouraging people to adopt new behaviors.

Consumer Behavior: The Toughest Challenge Yet?

"When someone tells you something about hygiene, it's easy to do it for a couple of days and then switch back to your old habits. Habits are hard to change and we're seeing this come up in almost every initiative," he said.
Using the example of laundry, he exemplified:
"The biggest use of domestic water across households worldwide is for laundry.  Only a few hundred million in North America use machines. The other billions wash their clothes by hand and usually use four buckets of water to do so: wash in one, rinse in three. Our challenge is to reduce that rinsing from three buckets to one.  So we came up with a product that kills the foam – wash in one bucket and rinse in one bucket. Water used is instantly cut to half. And we expected the product to be a runaway success."
The team found that embedding that behavior change of using one bucket instead of three wasinstrumentally tough. Even in water scarce markets where people have to walk long distances for water. "Rinsing is hard work. I thought this would be a rapid victory but we found that it takes time to change habits and we ended up reaching only 29 million households, much lower than anticipated," he recalled.

When your footprint encompasses billions of culturally diverse populations with very different social and environmental settings, scale becomes an ever-moving target.
Perhaps Weed puts it best again: "If you went to work in a Boeing 747, it wouldn’t make a difference to the planet. If half the planet started doing that, it would make a huge difference. The power of individuals is when you scale them together."

Its hard work.
And Unilever's 2012 Progress Report while celebrating the company's achievements does not undercut the challenges ahead. "We're breaking new ground every day. We're showing results. But there are several pieces we are yet to crack," said Weed.