The theme of purpose returned as Keith Weed, chief marketing and communications officer, Unilever, returned to the main stage of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. In 2015, he underlined the need to move from the ‘marketing to people’ approach of the past, and the ‘marketing with people’ of the present, to the future: ‘marketing for people’.
Weed based his presentation on learnings from conversations with over 20 C-suite thought leaders from the world of advertising, marketing and technology/media.
“I found three recurring themes in the course of these conversations: The Idea, The Trust and The Transformation,” opened the marketing head.
What hasn’t changed, he underlined, is that marketers need to connect with people through their hearts. And in doing so. He emphasised the need for localised manifestation for an idea like Dove’s #ChooseBeautiful.
The popularity of the campaign led to a parody, #EmbraceYourSize (for men).
Meanwhile, in France, the brand played out a different script to encourage women to feel good about themselves, and enhance their self-esteem: #OneBeautifulThought
“We are an industry of ideas. It’s not about the technology. You cannot replace creativity of the human mind with a piece of technology. We must put people first, and focus on the idea,” he observed.
Trust matters at two levels, the speaker noted – trust of consumers in the brand and trust between different players in a fast-changing industry: “Companies that weren’t around five years ago have come in today. So I am not surprised that there is a bit of tension. But we need to build that trust to build great ideas. And with the industry in chaos, it is going to be a big challenge to build trust.”
With fragmentation being a reality and brands having to deal with multiple specialists, the need for trust and collaboration is paramount, noted Weed. He added, “The time of one agency has to come back in one form or the other.”
Measurability is key
In the course of his talk focused on ‘trust’, Weed touched upon the shrinking attention span and for ideas that can work online in 5 seconds, and also the growing number of people on the internet and the issue of lack of measurability.
Quoting a Nielsen study, he said 40 per cent of online ads did not reach the audience. While the ads may be delivered in some cases, they are not seen or even on screen. Measurability, he noted, encompasses view-ability and verification.
“We should get what we are paying for. If not, then the digital advertising industry is going to start undermining itself. There is fraud – (to the tune of US$) 6 top 10 billion of ad spend. There are more bots online than humans,” he proclaimed.
If brands want to establish deeper engagement, they need to have more dimensions, submitted the marketer who has crusaded for marketing with purpose for several years now.
India - Gandhi
US - King
The CMO revealed that in the last year, ‘sustainable living brands’ from Unilever, like Dove and Lifebuoy, accounted for 50 per cent of growth, growing at twice the rate of other brands in the portfolio. Purpose was not something to be delegated to CSR teams, he underlined.
“We believe this will grow more and more. We believe there has never been a better time for marketing ‘for’ people. Marketers and advertisers need to step forward here. We have to think of new business models. We need to mainstream sustainability,” surmised Weed.