Unilever, the world's second-largest advertiser, is changing the way it markets itself to incorporate more crowdsourcing and co-creation opportunities and to be less "corporate", according to chief marketer Keith Weed.
Speaking at the Guardian Advertising Summit today, Weed, who earlier this year became the first man to be responsible for all marketing, communications and sustainability strategies at the multinational conglomerate, indicated more change was on its way.
Among the things set to get an overhaul is Unilever’s flagship site itself, Unilever.com.
Weed said the company would respond to consumers’ wishes for the company to be less corporate and to speak to them in their own language.
He said: "I don’t think that a lot of company sites have realised that their biggest users now are consumers. And we’re guilty as well. Go on to Unilever.com, we’re still very corporate. That will change.
"We’re still very corporate in our face to the outside world, because it is positioned to a financial analyst or a journalist.
"The truth of the matter is over 60% of the people that go to Unilever.com now are consumers and future employees, and we should engage them in that way. So more, certainly on my side, on that."
Talking about future plans for the British-Dutch multinational corporation that owns many of the world's consumer brands in foods, drink, cleaning agents and personal care products, Weed said it was centred around being more "joined-up", both internally and externally.
"It wasn’t so long ago that [Unilever] communications would have been over here, with marketing over there," he said.
"Unilever.com would have been communications and the Unilever corporate brand run by marketing. In a more transparent digital world it has to be joined-up… a more cohesive front."
Weed has already committed to doubling the company’s digital marketing budget during his first year, justified by his simple motto: "We fish where the fishes are".
Today he added: "We will be taking a much more proactive stance in the area of YouTube, Facebook, etc, even at a Unilever corporate level."
One initiative that is sure to shape Unilever’s digital strategy has been the well-publicised partnership with film competition board Mofilm, announced in April.
The crowdsourcing drive to generate short commercial films for 13 Unilever brands was today reported to have garnered 10,000 downloaded briefs by up-and-coming filmmaking talent. This activity has been in addition to crowdsourcing for Peperami and for the successful launch of Dove Men + Care in the US.
Weed hinted that more "interactive" Unilever ads would launch in the UK shortly.
Meanwhile, smartphones were identified as "the next step up, the next big transformation" for marketers. He added: "One factoid I’ll share with you because I love this one, is that there are more mobile phones now than toilets in India."
Weed concluded: "We hear a lot about climate change right now and I would argue that certainly from my perspective, from a brand perspective, the climate has very much changed and the revolution we’re in the middle of is a very exciting time for marketing, and there’s a huge amount of opportunity."
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