Unilever has promoted Keith Weed, head of global homecare, oral care and water, to chief marketing and communications officer.
He takes up some of the responsibilities handled by Simon Clift, who revealed in February that he was leaving the company after 30 years to spend more time with his family.
Weed has been given the additional responsibility of overseeing communications and he will take a seat on the Unilever board. He will report directly to chief executive Paul Polman.
Polman says: “This is the first time Unilever has had a CMO at the top table and is a key step to having a sharper consumer focus in the company.”
A Unilever spokesperson adds that it made “strategic sense to put marketing and communications together” and “give both functions a voice on the executive board”.
Former Lever Brothers chairman Andrew Seth says Weed is well placed for the role because he knows the business well and turned around Unilever’s laundry business.
Seth, now chairman of consultancy Brand Intellect, says the appointment of a CMO from within the company is a mark of Unilever’s skill at training and developing marketers with a broad experience across the business.
However, Zaid Al-Zaidy, former Unilever innovation manager for Axe and now managing partner at digital agency Saint, says that while it is important to have a CMO, “marketing happens at such a personal level in the digital age, and how can a CMO deliver that from above?”
Unilever spent £5.3bn (£4.8bn) on advertising and promotions in 2009, up £250m (£225m) on the previous year, and has revealed plans to recruit 30 marketers to enhance its marketing capabilities.