Unilever’s chief marketing and communications officer, Keith Weed has a mission and its successful implementation is keeping him awake at night.

His company, which operates in 189 countries, where 2.5 billion people use Unilever products every day is facing up to the changing digital landscape and Weed can’t rest until he’s joined up the digital dots, further embraced diversity and reimagined creativity for a world, where the customer’s attention is no longer a right, but true reward for people caring enough to want to engage with his brands.

Joining the dots

Weed believes that as digital marketing has evolved, we’ve developed a form of tunnel vision that only allows us to see the latest challenge making headlines, whether that be issues around advertising viewability, verification or value.

“We need to unite all these issues around the consumer,” Weed says. “Currently if 50% of ad pixels are seen, it counts as a view. I wouldn’t pay for only half a TV spot to be seen so why should I pay for only half a digital ad to be on view? Only when we can agree on 100% of the pixels counting as a view will digital be taken seriously as an advertising medium.”

Once, what constitutes a digital view is standardised, Weed wants to see third-party verification so that agencies are no longer ‘marking their own homework’. He’d also like to see a more detailed classification of publisher inventory so that brands can achieve safer and more suitable placements for their advertising.

“Measurement is then the thing that will pull these strands together,” Weed concludes. “We need one measurement system for the digital world, one systems that can measure how our ads are seen, where they’re seen and by whom. Only then will we get the digital industry our brands deserve.”


According to Unilever research, more progressive advertising is 25% more effective than ads which portray worn-out stereotypes and deliver better brand engagement. “So it’s both a moral and an economic issue to build greater diversity into our business,” Weed says.

To meet this end, Weed has announced a partnership with UN Women and 20 other advertising and technology players to banish stereotypical portrayals of gender in advertising.

Dubbed the ‘Unstereotype Alliance’, the collective will build on Unilever’s 2016 ‘Unsterotype’ campaign, which set out to accelerate progress around how people are portrayed in ads and branded content.

“We’ve seen real progress but it doesn’t go far enough,” Weed says. “Our job isn’t done until we never see an ad that diminishes or limits the role of anyone in society. We want to work with our peers across the industry to develop new ways of working, to share knowledge and approaches, so that we can scale the Unstereotype commitments.”

Reimagined creativity

“We need a unifying idea that will reimagine creativity around meaningfulness or purposefulness,” Weed continues. “For us that’s our Sustainable Living Brands. It’s a fact that these brands are growing at a rate that’s 50% faster than other brands in our portfolio and currently make-up 60% of our overall growth. It’s proof that we should be focusing more on authentic sustainable living as the main creative route to cutting through. The rewards of consumer attention and engagement will be greater.”