Bright Ideas, Bright Future

Keith Weed, CMO of Unilever, did a heck of a lot of research ahead of his Cannes Lions seminar, speaking to professionals across the marketing and social industries — and it can all be summed up in three words. Ideas, trust, and transformation.

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“You have to engage people with their hearts and inspire them to action,” he says of ideas, citing Dove’s ‘One Beautiful Thought’ ad, designed to tap into the café culture so close to the hearts of French consumers. Dove’s willingness to tackle the distinctly unglamorous area of female self-image is what sets these campaigns apart.

And you know you’ve got a hit on your hands when the YouTube parodies start rolling in, as was the case with Dove’s ‘Choose Beautiful’. Imitating the ‘beautiful’ and ‘average’ doorways from the campaign, men had to decide whether to walk through a door marked ‘big awesome’ or ‘average awesome’.

Trust is everything

“With great relationships you get trust; it’s the same in our own lives,” says Weed. And it’s not just the trust of the consumer that’s important; internal trust across the entire advertising industry needs to be strengthened. That means honesty and transparency in the measurement of online advertising units. If you split the difference on data from Nielsen and Google respectively, a staggering 45% of ads aren’t reaching their audience. Weed calls for 100% visibility above the fold, as this is what agencies are paying for. “There are more bots on the internet than there are humans,” says Weed. “Are you paying for the eyes of a bot or the eyes of a human?”

“There are so many silos,” he says, “we need trust to bring businesses back together again… Because when we are at our best, we can be awesome brilliant.” To illustrate this, Weed shows the audience a clip from Magnum’s latest campaign, which features an array of gorgeous, gender non-conforming models, including drag superstar Willam Belli, being “true to their pleasure.”

Purchase with purpose


Unilever works with NGOs all over the world and most recently has pioneered a campaign which puts young speakers and entrepreneurs front and centre to tackle real issues like hunger, pollution and sanitation. By showing the contrast among these fresh-faced idealists and well-known footage of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, the videos drive home the point that while our world has moved on in issues like civil rights, we still have plenty of work to do elsewhere.

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