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Here's How Unilever Is Shaking Up Its Marketing Budget and Tackling Toxic Online Content
As the marketing landscape continues to evolve, companies are having to make sure their efforts are aimed in the right direction. Gone are the days when television and print were your only options when it comes to marketing procurement, with the modern industry having to consider multiple providers over many online platforms including websites, social media, and more.
There’s not usually a one-size-fits-all option when it comes to marketing, especially when it comes to an enormous organisation such as Unilever. It’s this fact which has led the transnational consumer goods company to shake up the way its marketing procurement is handled.
New Category Divisions
Until now, the responsibility for Unilever’s marketing and advertising activity and budgeting was part of a dual governance structure – a two-tier system where two separate boards of directors govern a corporation. However, as part of its move towards becoming a single legal entity, Unilever is creating three separate teams who will handle the marketing procurement for different arms of the business.
The three divisions will comprise of beauty and personal care, home care, and foods and refreshment, with two based in London and the foods and refreshment team in Rotterdam. They will be responsible for not only marketing and advertising budgets, but also be reported to by the country category business teams to achieve increased agility and be better connected to key consumers and markets.
This means they will be able to assign marketing budgets based on factors such as geographical need and their own strategic objectives, while considering the goals of the corporation as a whole, of course.
“Of critical importance for success is to combine scale with agility,” said Unilever CFO, Graeme Pitkethly. “Unilever will not be run by a corporate centre, but by three empowered divisions. This is the logical next step in the transformation of Unilever. It will drive long-term shareholder value and provide increased flexibility, strengthen corporate governance and enable our divisions to better serve consumers by balancing scale and agility.”
Not only is Unilever shaking up the way its marketing procurement is handled, it’s also becoming more ethical when it comes to who it’s willing to do business with. A company such as Unilever has no small amount of clout when it comes to the money it spends on marketing, and so can demand certain things of those it works with.
The target of Unilever’s ire in this instance are those companies and platforms it deems to be playing a role (often through inaction) in breeding division in society, and/or failing to protect children from toxic content. Unilever is calling time on the Wild West of the digital media industry, and is willing to throw its financial influence around to make its point.
“With the rise of fake news, racism, sexism, terrorists spreading messages of hate, and toxic content directed at children, parts of the internet have become toxic,” said Unilever’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Keith Weed. “The wider impact of digital on our society and the swamp that is the digital supply chain has become a consumer issue. It’s in the digital media industry’s interest to listen and act on this. Before viewers stop viewing, advertisers stop advertising, and publishers stop publishing.”
Unilever’s new stance will be built upon three core tenets:
• On responsible platforms: Unilever will not invest in platforms which do not protect children, or which create division in society and promote anger or hate.
• On responsible content: Unilever is committed to creating responsible content, initially by tackling gender stereotypes in advertising through the Unstereotype Alliance.
• On responsible infrastructure: Unilever will only partner with organisations which are committed to creating better digital infrastructure, such as aligning around one measurement system and improving the customer experience.
Whether Unilever’s policy will be directed entirely at hosting platforms such as YouTube or Facebook or will extend to publications such as the Daily Mail and The Sun (which have both been targets of the Stop Funding Hate campaign) remains to be seen, but it seems at least the intention behind this drive is noble.
Marketing procurement has long needed shaking up, and it’s good to see a big brand such as Unilever finding not just innovative ways to better assign budgets, but also to use its buying power to try and make the world a better place for all.
Reinventing marketing procurement is set to be a hot topic at ProcureCon Marketing 2019, taking place in June at the Twickenham Stadium, London. Download the agenda today for more information and insights.