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 newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

Conversations over a cuppa with CMO: Craig Davis

​Leadership resilience, startups scaling up, marketing best practices, customer insights - these are just a few of the topics we manage to explore in the latest episode of Conversations over a Cuppa with CMO featuring Craig Davis.

More Videos

JP54,D2, D6, JetA1 EN590Dear Buyer/ Buyer mandateWe currently have Available FOB Rotterdam/Houston for JP54,D2, D6, JetA1 with good and w...

BARYBKIN ALEXANDER ALEXANDROVI

3-pronged marketing approach for property disruptor Brickx

Read more

Was really informative. Customer retention is very important for companies as retaining customers are simpler compared to making new ones...

Bhooshan Shetty

What lies ahead for the future of marketing post-AI

Read more

Good day sir / madamWe CLOSED JOINT-STOCK COMPANY AO KAYUM NEFT OIL COMPANY is one of theleading Oil & Gas trading companies in Russi...

BARYBKIN ALEXANDER ALEXANDROVI

3-pronged marketing approach for property disruptor Brickx

Read more

Good day sir / madamWe CLOSED JOINT-STOCK COMPANY AO KAYUM NEFT OIL COMPANY is one of theleading Oil & Gas trading companies in Russi...

BARYBKIN ALEXANDER ALEXANDROVI

Oath to fully acquire Yahoo7 from Seven West Media

Read more

Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Definitely bookmarked for future reading! Check this website https://a2designlab.com/ with lots of ...

Ryota Miyagi

Brene Brown: What it takes to be a brave leader right now

Read more

Blog Posts

Life beyond the cookie: 5 steps to mapping the future of marketing measurement

​There’s no denying there’s been a whirlwind of response to the imminent demise of the third-party cookie from all parts of the industry. But as we’ve collectively come to better understand the implications, it’s clear this change is giving the digital advertising industry the opportunity to re-think digital marketing to support core industry use cases, while balancing consumer privacy.

Natalie Stanbury

Director of research, IAB Australia

Ensuring post-crisis success

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed brands’ CX shortcomings and a lack of customer understanding. Given ongoing disruption, customer needs, wants and expectations are continually changing, also causing customers to behave in different ways. Just look at hoarding toilet paper, staple and canned food, medicinal and cleaning products.

Riccardo Pasto

senior analyst, Forrester

A few behavioural economics lesson to get your brand on top of the travel list

Understanding the core principles of Behavioural Economics will give players in the travel industry a major competitive advantage when restrictions lift and travellers begin to book again. And there are a few insights in here for the rest of the marketing community, too.

Dan Monheit

Co-founder, Hardhat

Sign in