Unilever: “Marketing needs to be noble again”

Unilever wants to make marketing a “noble” profession again by driving social progress as well as business growth after decades of “selling for selling’s sake”.

Persil’s Dirt is Good campaign is a frontrunner of ‘crafting brands for life’
Persil’s Dirt is Good campaign is a frontrunner of ‘crafting brands for life’

Marc Mathieu, senior vice-president of marketing at Unilever and the architect of its recently introduced “crafting brands for life” marketing strategy, believes that marketers should get back to the origins of the discipline as a way to drive social progress as well as sales.

He says: “We want to make people believe that marketing is a wonderful profession again and make it noble as a way of serving the progress of people’s lives in a good way. In the last few decades of the 20th century marketing has become selling for the sake of selling, but at its inception, marketing was inspired by the Henry Fords, the William Levers of the world – people with a vision to bring products to people that could create progress and improve lives.”

Unilever has set out its “crafting brands for life” strategy as the marketing equivalent of Unilever CEO Paul Polman’s sustainable business strategy to double the size of the business without increasing its environmental footprint, and hopes that it can help “reinvent” the way businesses approach marketing.

It is based on the idea that marketing should balance “logic and magic” and become less about the process of marketing and more about creating a brand strategy that puts real people’s lives at the centre of everything, rather than consumers.

Mathieu adds: “I really believe that marketing is a wonderful profession and necessary tool of the way the world needs to work in the future. If we really believe that corporations have a key role to play in driving social economic and environmental progress, marketing has a big role to play.”

I believe that marketing done well is an amazing profession. some people do it more as a job, and some people do it more as a craft. Marketing can be seen as a process but brands are the reason we do it, what people buy and buy into – that’s where thinking about marketing brings us on the path of the process, but when you think about brands you elevate the vision of marketing to a higher level.”

“It’s not just a process or succession of steps … marketing is at its best and much more interesting when you are thinking about real people you can improve the lives of.”

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