Profile: Jeremy Gilley

The man marketing world peace

Unilever plans corporate sustainability ads

Unilever is to launch its first corporate brand campaign to trumpet its approach to sustainability and the impact its brands have had encouraging behaviour change.

unilever

Unilever chief marketing officer Keith Weed told Marketing Week that the consumer campaign is the latest stage of the company’s 10-year Sustainable Living Plan, which is an attempt to embed sustainability into the organisation and its brand communications.

The activity, likely to launch before the end of the year, will detail how the initiative impacts the company’s brands. It will encourage change towards more sustainable consumer behaviour.

Advertisements will engage consumers with the story about what is “different and unique” about Unilever, says Weed.

He adds he wants Unilever’s corporate brand to be a ‘quality mark’ that stands for sustainability, but says that sustainability marketing is still a challenge.

“I don’t want people to have to worry about whether this product has a better sustainability profile than another, I want people to know that Unilever is leading edge in this area and if you see the Unilever ‘U’ logo on an ad or on a product, that gives you the reassurance that we’ve done our homework.”

Weed says: “We’ve already started through digital to create a story and get a ground swell, but most importantly there to be substance to it. I’m not interested in a classic ‘marketing’ in inverted commas, campaign, what I’m interested in is building up what unique and different about Unilever.”

Unilever introduced its corporate logo to advertising and packaging in the UK in 2009. It has since appointed Ogilvy & Mather to handle the global creative account for the corporate brand and promoted former UK vice-president of UK food marketing, Paul Nevett to oversee its corporate brand strategy in FMCG Rival Procter & Gamble launched its first corporate brand campaign in 2011.

The company’s Sustainable Living Plan launched in 2011. It includes commitments to halve the environmental impact of products and source 100% of agricultural raw materials in a sustainable way.

At an event to mark the first year of the plan this week, Unilever’s CEO Paul Polman admitted that the company is finding it difficult to make progress on changing consumer habits. It has, he claims, made “excellent progress in some areas and exceeded some of its targets on more tangible goals such as sustainable sourcing and nutrition.

For example, Unilever has developed Comfort One Rinse laundry detergent to reduce the water needed to hand wash clothes in developing countries, but has found that consumers have taken longer to adopt new behaviours and actually use less water and so there is more to do to educate consumers in how they use products to reduce the environmental impact.

Separately, Unilever has introduced new corporate brand livery to ensure a consistent brand look across all its corporate communications channels.

Watch Marketing Week’s video Q&A with Keith Weed here.

Unilever claims on sustainability, one year on

  • 68% increase in share price last year following launch of Sustainable Living Plan.
  • Improve the health and wellbeing of 135 million people through hand washing, oral care and safe drinking water activity.
  • 60% increase in households using Unilever’s One Rinse products to 12.5 million
  • On target to meet 50 of the original 58 time-bound goals.

Readers' comments (1)

  • We need to be careful about how companies are leveraging sustainability and be sure about ALL of their corporate values and practices, especially those that are "campaigned". As far as Unilever is concerned, they continue to test on animals. Testing on animals precludes a company from calling itself sustainable.

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