Cannes Lions 2017: Unilever Global CMO Keith Weed talks of embracing old and new rules in advertising
Weed also spoke on key issues such as ad fraud, embracing diversity in advertising and why brands first need to engage their consumers
Published - 22-June-2017
Keith Weed, Global Chief Marketing Officer, Unilever, spoke at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity about third party verification, issues faced by the digital medium namely ad fraud, fake news, transparency, and unstereotyping advertising.
Commenting on '50 per cent pixel view-ability' notion on digital by running a TV ad with cut out parts, Weed said, “At the end of the day this is most important, if you don’t have your ad viewed, you are nothing. And this is why I find the debate going on right now is really quite bizarre. So, behind me if you see half of the TV ad. Half of the TV ad is one of our brand, if you can guess which one it is. But, the truth of the matter is that I wouldn’t pay for half a TV ad. I find extraordinary that the debate is going on right now that 50% of the pixels apparently cancels the view. And doesn’t matter whether which half, that half or the other half, I want 100% pixels. I don't know how 50 per cent pixels are considered a view. We wouldn't pay for such an ad on TV. It just doesn't sound right.”
Moving to third party verification and ad fraud, Weed said, “We need to have third party verification. 60% of the traffic online are bots, half from the good bots, half from the bad bots, but they are bots, and everyone is buying eyeballs of humans, and not eyeballs of bots. We want to be, of course, a company that buys human eyeballs, and 100% viewability on the screen.”
Coming to brand safety, Weed said, “Every day we buy about a billion apps. And that’s a lot of apps. What we are going to make sure is we are not going to buy brand safety but brand suitability as well. I think for my perspective this is a responsibility. Yes, of course additional media companies and the publishers, but also the media agencies, and the advertisers as well- you need to use all those… to ensure that your advertising is in a suitable and safe environment. I think what we then need to do is ensure that the inventory on these media sides is better classified. So, I think better classification of inventory is probably going to help us solve our brand safety. So, we have 100% pixels viewed, we have third party verification. We want to be sure it’s humans not bots, want to make sure if the brand is safe. And I think we need to have one measurement system for the digital media world as well. At the end of the day you have one consumer, and there is one budget, and we want to be able to track and transact with one total audience measure. And once we get that, we will have a better digital industry.”
Weed also spoke on embracing diversity. “We have all seen stereotypical images in advertising and want to make sure that as an industry we embrace the diversity. What we wanted to do is un-stereotype our advertising, work with our advertising agencies and have a very different type of approach to advertising. There is also an economic issue, and the economic issue quite simply is better ads, and surprise, if you show more progressive ads, if you show more aspirational things people want to engage with more. I took one brand that’s done more progress than the others in the Unilever stable. Yes, we want to have men putting laundry into washing machines. With Dove, we have beauty and really changing around self-esteem. And last year with the 6 Pack Band that we have been with Red Label in India- over a cup of tea, we wanted people to talk about various stigmas that are (present) in the Indian culture, and how we are being able to explore whether it would be Muslims living next door or Hindus or transgenders. And we are going to keep working on this. So, this last year we have made a lot of progress, in fact we have 24% more progressive ads made by Unilever. Because, when you look at advertising, it really does not represent where we think society should be, it even represents where society is right now,” he said.
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“The last one, ‘what keeps me await at night’. I think from perspective of Cannes, this is a very important one because it’s about creativity. You know you have to have creativity, but creativity was probably the last legal weapon that we need to fight. And we need to fight even more than that. What we are fighting for now is attention. We need to breakthrough that clutter and get noticed. And when you get noticed, we need to people to spend time with this. That means a very different type of creative. We are experimenting ourselves, with three second videos… How do you search? How do you do views? And we say that all the rules have to be re-made. We also should remember some of the old rules. We got to take some lessons from the past as well as look into the future. But there is multiple ways of course we can engage in getting people’s attention in a changing world. But, one thing I would like to express and what I think makes a big difference is I think people need to care more about the brands and the advertising spend time view. If you produce advertising stories and brands that people care about, they will spend more time with the advertising, and they will also grab and buy… An example, a few months ago our brand from the US, Seventh Generation did a survey of the top 50 most used brands in the world. And in the top 50 most brands, 13 of them are from Unilever. Now you might say this is not correlation the brands with purpose and environmental and social brands work but it is quite in correlation. Once you got people’s attention, they need to be able to engage with the brands and spend time. And if we don’t do that, we are going to have a real problem in building up brands. So, those are the three things that keep me awake at night. First, joining the digital box/bots in the industry; secondly, about race and diversity and thirdly creativity,” concluded Weed.