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

​ It’s time to walk the walk and get creative about data

Why do people still treat data and creativity as if they are two separate streams, running in parallel but never quite meeting?

Jason Dooris

CEO and founder, Atomic 212

Tapping behavioural science for consumer influence

We know full well the business we’re in as marketers is really the business of choice. But recent discoveries from behavioural science are leading to a psychological revolution that challenges many of the accepted models of how communication, creativity and advertising influence a consumer’s preferences.

Kyle Ross

Account director, TRP

10 ways of changing your culture through self-awareness

Did you hear about the manager who always shot the messenger whenever they brought bad news? He eventually stopped hearing bad news. Unfortunately for him, this wasn’t because there was none to report.

Steve Glaveski

Co-founder, Collective Campus

There are lots of feature of microsoft dynamics crm by using these features you can grow your businesses. Some of them is lead management...

Dynamics Square

How Port Container Services is finetuning lead management with CRM

Read more

Agreed. I see the opposite problem quite often where people are tasked in an organisation just with "be creative" - thus offering no boun...

Dr Fiona Kerr

The great debate: Is data killing creativity?

Read more

By far, this is the best article I've come across so far that has a relevant information regarding the future of marketing. Although the ...

Jayden Chu

​Six ways to prepare for the future of digital marketing

Read more

These are some good ideas. You didn't touch on the overarching goals and results of brand loyalty. This article does a good job at provid...

hgsupport

Four ways to use social media to boost customer loyalty

Read more

This read like a PR PLUG for the agency. Very flowery language for the agency and very little details about the deal or the project.

Digital_Marketer

Why Tourism Victoria decided to go agile

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in