Keith Weed wants Unilever to be the trust mark of sustainable living. The great thing about marketing, says Unilever marketing chief Keith Weed, is that it is both art and science. “It is creativity and effectiveness; it is magic and logic,” says Keith. “But I do think that there will be more logic in marketing in the future than there has been in the past.” For Unilever, the past is prologue. When William and James Lever founded Lever Brothers in the late 1800s, the logic was to make cleanliness commonplace, which it was not in Victorian-era Europe.
Sensing opportunity, William and James worked with a chemist to develop an innovative bar-soap using glycerin and palm oil instead of tallow. What they created was a brand — a guarantee of consistent quality — and they named it Sunlight. Like magic, the brothers Lever built a huge business that endures to this day as Unilever, where their purposeful legacy is alive and growing.
Indeed, Unilever in 2010 unfurled its ambitious Sustainable Living Plan, pledging to double the company’s growth by 2020 while cutting its carbon footprint in half; sustainably source 100 percent of its agricultural raw materials; and improve the health and well-being of more than one-billion people across the world.
Very much in the spirit of its founding brothers, Unilever plans to make a pile of money by improving the quality of life, while treading more lightly on the planet. Or, as Keith says, “make marketing noble again.” It sounds lofty, but as he explains, it is actually quite basic: “It’s really about getting back to the core of what marketing was: serving people by identifying current and future needs, so you can get to the future first and grow the business accordingly …” read >>