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Cannes Lions 2018: A brand without purpose is just a product, says Unilever’s Keith Weed

Weed pointed out aspects that the company will keep in mind in future while working with influencers

Keith Weed, Unilever

Unilever has always kept brand purpose at the core of its business since its inception and a brand without trust is just a product, said Keith Weed, Chief Marketing and Communication Officer, Unilever, at the opening session of Cannes Lions Festival, Day 3.

“Trust is most important and at the core of what we do in building brand. Unilever’s market cap is much more than its asset value and the extra value is achieved through consumer trust and reputation of our brand,” said Weed.

In today’s times of the digital world, gaining consumer trust has become further important. Weed pointed to the three commitments that the brand has made. Weed said, “These commitments are made to rebuild trust in the era of fake news and toxic content.”

Responsible platforms

Unilever will not invest in platforms or environments that do not protect our children or which create division in society, and promote anger or hate.

Responsible content

Unilever is committed to creating responsible content, initially tackling gender stereotypes in advertising through #Unstereotype, and championing this across the industry through the #Unstereotype Alliance.

Responsible infrastructure

Unilever will only partner with organisations that are committed to creating better digital infrastructure, such as aligning around one measurement system and improving the consumer experience.

Talking about his point of view on influencer marketing and its side-effects, Weed said, “It was only two years ago here at Cannes when I was talking about the growth of influencer marketing and in the last two years, the growth has been exponential. However, any market that grows quickly has its dark side as well. The dark side of influencer marketing is that people are buying followers. The worst is having bots retweeting and doing views.”

But talking about the positive side of the influencer marketing, Weed said that the market is too good to let a few bad apples affect it completely and we need to take some steps to ensure this market is fit for future growth.

Weed pointed to three aspects that Unilever will keep in mind in future while working with influencers:

Transparency from Influencers

We will not work with influencers who buy followers.

Transparency from brands

Our brands will never buy followers.

Transparency from platforms

We will prioritise partners who increase transparency and help eradicate bad practices throughout the whole ecosystem.

Weed also talked about Unilever’s focus on sustainable growth. Owning sustainable brands, the company has grown 46% faster, with 70% growth from its 26 brands. “At the end of the day if you could get a purposeful growth, it will really impact the business.”

Pointing at things that Unilever keeps in mind while building a purposeful brand, Weed said, “Firstly, how can you bring a greater purpose into your own portfolio? Secondly, by acquiring news brands that has purposes and sustainability in its mind.”

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