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]”.