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