Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Unilever Hits The Nail On The Head!

On March 14 The Financial Times ran an article titled “Unilever team tasked to rethink advertising” that everyone at Arketi loved. We are excited to see a global brand like Unilever come out in such strong support for integrated marketing.

We were even more excited to see Alan Rutherford, Unilever's global media director, challenge agencies to bring “traditional media and digital and content and public relations all … under one roof under the agency side."

Always believers that we are smart folks, we are proud to say this holistic, discipline-agnostic approach to marketing is Arketi’s underlying tenet!

The full article is below...

Unilever team tasked to rethink advertising
By Gary Silverman in London
Financial Times
Updated: 1:10 a.m. ET March 14, 2006

Unilever believes that traditional marketing services agencies are "struggling" to keep up with rapid changes in the media and has quietly established new internal teams to help fill the void.

The consumer products group set up communications planning and digital advertising operations last year as part of efforts to respond to the declining impact of television advertising. Alan Rutherford, Unilever's global media director, on Monday said television now accounted for about 65 per cent of the Anglo-Dutch company's global advertising budget, down from about 85 per cent at the start of the decade.

This shift of emphasis has put a premium on "holistic" campaigns that make use of a wider range of marketing tools. But Mr Rutherford indicated that Unilever, owner of such brands as Dove, Lynx and Hellman's, was less than thrilled with the input it was receiving. "The ad industry is struggling at the moment in...pulling all the components of brand communication together," Mr Rutherford said. "There is a struggle to have traditional media and digital and content and public relations all brought under one roof under the agency side."

Mr Rutherford said Unilever was stopping well short of setting up internal agencies, but was trying to spur change in its outside agencies. He said Unilever had assigned six people to help work on devising integrating campaigns for leading brands. Five were charged with finding new digital advertising ideas.

"I think there is a disconnect between creative thinking and communications channel management at the moment," Mr Rutherford said. "I think this will help redress that disconnect on the agency side." Mr Rutherford's comments on the need for greater integration in marketing services echo those by Jim Stengel, global marketing officer of Procter & Gamble, the great US rival of Unilever.

Mr Stengel said he thought the job of media planner – the person who decides where to place advertisements – should be combined with that of creative planner, who helps decide what kind of ads to run. This has led to speculation that marketing services groups might combine their creative advertising and media buying arms, which were separated in recent years in the interest of efficiency.

Mr Rutherford said he doubted the big groups could "rebundle" such operations because the separation process is "so far down the line". Unilever's decision to set up internal teams was "one way in which we can take ownership" of the issue and "drive the new way of thinking and working".

Copyright The Financial Times Ltd. All rights reserved.

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