Can brand builders do well and do good?

JWT's digital director, Josie Brown, CMO's roving reporter at Cannes, looks at how Unilever is employing both social responsibility and brand strategy to gain success

Few global businesses have been as committed to connecting commercial success with global sustainability as Unilever.

The global CPG powerhouse, which maintains brands such as Dove, Lifebuoy and Ben & Jerry’s, puts social sustainability programmes directly in the hands of the brand builders – not PR or corporate communications – in order to connect brand purpose with social good.

Unilever CMO, Keith Weed, made a passionate presentation at the Cannes Lions last week, laying out a case that brands with social purpose deliver deeper engagement with consumers and that ultimately drives to commercial outcome. He states Unilever brands succeeding in delivering ideas that blend social purpose with a brand idea are growing twice as fast as others in the Unilever portfolio.

Weed proposed three key elements that need to be in place to help brands do well and do good:

Ideas: Inspire and touch people emotionally through creative ideas.

Trust: More trust is required between publishers, clients and agencies in a new marketing age where more specialists and more channels are required to deliver attention grabbing and engaging creative work.

Transformation: New collaborations that bring together technology innovation and creative ideas will lead to deeper engagement with brands.

The work Weed showed on the Cannes stage for Dove, Magnum, Lifebuoy and the Unilever masterbrand were powerful examples that demonstrate how a clear social purpose can be harnessed to deliver powerful creative brand ideas.

The latest Dove work reinforces the brand’s purpose to reinforce that beauty be a source of confidence for women, not anxiety. A film shows signage being hung above doors – making one entrance read ‘beautiful’ and one entrance for ‘average’. The film shows women reading the signage and choosing to enter through the ‘average’ door. The idea in the film is a powerful, emotional connection that certainly delivers on Dove’s social purpose.

Brands need to trust publishers will work with them fairly to ensure these ideas reach and connect with the target audience. Weed made an impassioned plea to online publishers to present paid online advertising where consumers can see it.

In an era of ad-blockers and click-fraud, Unilever is pushing for online advertising standard practices where all ads appear within a readable screen and are 100 per cent visible (not cut off).

The power of transformation in marketing at Unilever was also evident in the work Weed presented for the Masterbrand. Unilever Foundry is a new initiative to connect startup businesses and technology platforms with Unilever’s brand marketers.

One of the outputs is a project called ‘Unilever Futures’, and is about harnessing the talents of new, young entrepreneurs and contributing to fund their social marketing efforts.

If Unilever can genuinely crack a model where brand marketers deliver social purpose as part of a consumer brand proposition that truly delivers commercial outcomes for the corporation, the company will set a new standard others will race to emulate.

- Josie Brown is the APAC director of digital for J. Walter Thompson.

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

Brand management starts with management

As the world continues to grow and evolve, it’s more important than ever to build a strong brand that articulates your message clearly and consistently, stands out against the noise, and develops relevance with the people that matter. This makes managing your brand a key component to gaining cut-through and ultimately business success.

Dan Ratner

managing director, Uberbrand

Disrupting marketing as we know it

Call it digital disruption or the fourth industrial revolution, our rapidly evolving environment is affecting consumer perceptions, purchase behaviours and the way they consume information and products.

Jean-Luc Ambrosi

Author, marketer

Should your disclaimer become your headline?

To avoid misleading customers, or simply through fear of legal backlash, advertising has evolved to hide the potential shortcomings of an offer in its disclaimer.

Sam Tatam

Head of behavioural science, OgilvyChange Australia

Very interesting article which touches on the importance of a feedback loop fuelled by customer and market insights. Ideally this scenari...

Andrew Reid

Building customer insights in the data and digital age

Read more

Very very good piece- very novel and innovative and very possibly- effective - way to look at one's communication headlines!

Patrick Dsouza

Should your disclaimer become your headline? - Brand science - CMO Australia

Read more

Excellent post Rob, Mobile app users are growing day by day. Everyday lots of apps are launched in the market but not every app retains t...

Marcus Miller

Why app engagement must be personalised - Mobile strategy - CMO Australia

Read more

very informative blog. I really like the information given in this blog.http://gng.com.au/

Gajanand Choudhary

The evolving role of the CMO - The CMO view - CMO Australia

Read more

It is true That’s the new read following up Deloitte Digital's Digital disruption - Short Fuse, blowup analysis series, that appearance t...

miller645645@mail.ru

Digital disruption about to impact health, education sectors

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in