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Not all creatives evaluated at Cannes Lions are successful with consumers: Samir Singh

Singh, Chief Marketing Officer, Global Personal Care, Unilever, was speaking on the stage on day 2 of the International Festival of Creativity in the second CMOs in Spotlight session alongside the CMOs of Walmart and e.l.f Beauty, William White and Kory Marchisotto, respectively

On day 2 of Cannes Lions, Samir Singh, Chief Marketing Officer, Global Personal Care, Unilever, took to the stage for the second session of CMOs in Spotlight along with TV presenter- Johanna Botta and William White, CMO, Walmart and Kory Marchisotto, CMO, e.l.f Beauty.

Sharing his views on what metrics he uses to gauge the success as one of the top 20 marketers who influencer the shaping of the creator economy, Unilever’s Singh, stated that while the organisation is home to various 100-year-old equity brands such as Dove, Axe, Rexona and Mary Joseph amongst others, people trust a lot more what others say about these brands as opposed to what the brand says itself and that’s how one should really look at creators.

As per him, one can look for various parameters such as whether there is an authentic value exchange between the brand and the creator or how the brand brings value to the lives of these creators and the system along with what their followers want or even build human and long-term relationships rather than just transactional ones.

“We are willing to let go of a bit of control because we've always been quite controlling of the messaging on these brands, and you need a bit of diversity in creative, which to me is not chaos, but authenticity. But when it comes to measurement, I think that we have invented too many small measurements that benefit a particular medium- be it driving long-term brand power, awareness, etc. because if they’re being met, I’m less worried about the click-throughs and other such metrics,” he said.

He then went on to add that one of the biggest metrics for Unilever to get on the frontline program is to be unmissable, distinctive, memorable and active. 

Commenting as to how creativity brings value to the business and what metrics he uses to show the impact of the same, Singh stated that there are three measures that he resorts to when navigating the impact of creativity on business apart from market share and penetration- long-term path for the brand, unmissable creatives and driving the larger purpose of the brand.

“What really matters is how you go the long-term path of making your brand meaningful, different and salient. How do you make your creatives unmissable, distinctive, memorable, and an actor to follow and then to drive the larger purpose, something that is beyond the functional benefits of the brand,” he said.

He further went on to cite a Nielsen report which pointed out that the quality of the creative drives 47% of the Return on Investment while the study on media reach shows the same numbers going down to 22%

“Just look at the biggest impact work that we've done in our lives, and it's always linked to amazing creatives. In fact, a lot of the creatives that get evaluated here at Cannes are not the creatives that are always successful with consumers and that is something that we need to be mindful of the diversity of consumers that we target with the diversity of brands that we do,” he said. 

Later, during the interaction, he also acknowledged that the most overhyped word in marketing, in his opinion, is Creative Awards.

Sharing more on how the company purpose drives creatives, he said that some of the Unilever brands which are a hundred years old today are still hugely relevant for GenZ consumers owing to the purpose which is not just about the functional benefits or the emotional benefits of delivering something day after day, be it joy or end-to-end experience perfection, but about the larger purpose of standing for something bigger. 

“If you look at our brands like Dove, Lifebuoy, Rexona, etc. which have stood the test of time and have been consistent. What’s common to them all is that they mean something deeper to consumers than just preventing sweat or giving you moisturisation. And that comes from a fierce discipline, a real passion and doing it day after day whilst remaining creative,” he opined.

Upon being questioned what’s the first thing that comes to his mind when he hears the word disruption, Singh replied that it is critical to have the mindset of how the respective brand can disrupt itself, especially in the case of big brands or companies like Unilever, because disruption is something that such brands face from the outside. In fact, the best brands in the best markets are the ones which disrupt themselves and that thinking has a big role to play in the life of a CMO.

Commenting on how he ensures that he is connected with the next generation whilst not alienating other segments of the brand’s consumers, Singh said that to do so, he mainly focuses on three things- representation, dialogue, and relevance. 

“If there’s no GenZ in your brand or agency, then it gets very difficult to invent something that is exciting; dialogue because it's not a one-way street and it needs to keep going, and relevance because finally you need to be there where the GenZs are and including them with your brand by actually making an effort to attract them,” he added.

He further emphasised that while Unilever does use AI in various forms for efficiency, productivity and dramatic impact, which may seem to be primitive the following year, he isn’t affirmative on whether one can comprehend the impact it will have on all our lives, and particularly on marketing. 


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