Eularie Saldanha
Jun 24, 2021

Cannes Lions 2021: The three marketing commandments – Get real, be good, be unmissable

Presented by Unilever, Conny Braams, chief digital and marketing officer, and Aline Santos, chief brand officer and chief diversity and inclusion officer, Unilever, speak about the company’s new marketing philosophy

From left: Aline Santos and Conny Braams
From left: Aline Santos and Conny Braams
The virtual audience at the ongoing Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity saw a session with Unilever’s chief digital and marketing officer Conny Braams, and Aline Santos, chief brand officer and chief diversity and inclusion officer. The duo discussed the importance of leaving one’s comfort zone and stepping out on the frontline, to create a real impact in the world, through brands.
Addressing inequalities
Speaking about the decade worth of change that was prompted by only a year of the pandemic, Braams highlighted something she believes has worsened, i.e., inequalities. “The economic divides have become more pronounced, with the less advantaged being impacted more severely by the pandemic,” she said, adding that the climate crisis too, has become an increasing threat all over the world.
Braams believes that the government and NGOs, by themselves, would not be able to solve these problems and that marketing has to adapt its strategies to navigate the new on-demand world. "The availability of data enables us to better serve the previously underserved groups in society."
Brand responsibility
Talking about the advantages for brands in the pandemic, Braams stated that trust in businesses is on the rise. “Many businesses have surprised the consumers with what they are capable of. People now expect brands to step up on societal and environmental issues.”
She explains how the marketing world has merged with the sales world, and how the lines between media and commerce channels are increasingly blurring. “The risk of not being seen in an attention-poor digital environment is huge. We cannot do this from behind our desks or screens. If ever there was a time for brands to make a difference, it’s now,” she added, before handing over to Santos.
Marketing commandments
Embarking on the same thought that the future of businesses does not start from the topline or the bottom line, but on the frontline, Santos listed three things followed by Unilever. She believes marketers need to get these right:
  • Get real: Be closer to the gritty reality of our world and solve real problems for real people.
  • Do good: Be a force for good in the world and create a real impact.
  • Be unmissable: Ensuring brands are first in mind and first to find. Marketers need to champion creativity and accessibility.
“To get to the frontline, we have to first burst the marketing bubble. Most people don’t care about brands and advertising. It's been a challenge to un-stereotype advertising in our industry. We have an opportunity to be better reflected through our brands. Marketing sciences have revolutionised our understanding of how brands grow, and while data is crucial, it’s only half of the equation. We need to combine data with empathy, to solve real problems,” she said.
Data and empathy
Citing an example from Unilever’s tea brand 'Brooke Bond Red Label' in India, she states that purpose is a multiplier for growth, economically, socially and environmentally.

She also cited examples from other Unilever brands that worked towards the betterment of social, physical and environmental issues, while also maintaining brand recall in consumers’ minds. “The battle for people’s attention is at a fever pitch. It is becoming the world’s biggest currency,” she added. 
Becoming unmissable
Santos then spoke about how unmissable brands play to win at the extreme ends of the marketing spectrum. According to her, they aim to excel in two tasks, i.e., in the battle for attention and the frontline of commerce. “If our brands aren’t striving for fame in the frontline of popular culture, they will become invisible over time. Fame outperforms all other metrics. We will need culturally charged, purposeful creativity to create unmissable brand fame. Our brands must be first to find, online and offline.”  
Stating Unilever’s mission of ‘doing good is good business’, she wants all her brands to become frontline and have a real impact.
Its brand Dove, in its self-esteem project, used the same digital media to counter a negative situation through a creative execution, which she believes comprises all the examples of getting on the frontline. “The vibrant digital media world which we now inhabit can magnify and amplify enormously, for better and for worse,” she concluded.
Campaign India

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