Unilever, Facebook: ‘Brands can’t – and shouldn’t – try everything’

Cannes Lions 2013: Brands should not be distracted adopting emerging technologies and marketing opportunities just because they are available, according to senior marketers from Unilever and Facebook.

Unilever Facebook page

Unilever CMO Keith Weed says being “choiceful” about which opportunities to pursue and which to disregard will become a bigger part of marketers’ responsibility as the industry is faced with so many more emerging opportunities.

Speaking to Marketing Week at the annual Cannes Lions event, he said: “What [marketers] need to do is remember what we’re doing. At the end of the day we are serving consumers and building brands. If you remember those two things it guides you through what is a challenging time for marketers. Just because you can do everything, it doesn’t mean you should.

“Fish where the fish are. There are a lot of interesting things you can do and of course you do need to experiment but you should look at where consumers are engaging with brands and consuming media.”

Weed cited an example of one of Unilever’s brands in the Indonesian market which suffered a decline in brand equity because there were eight separately created pieces of brand communications running at the same time. Each piece of communication was effective on its own but together it was fragmenting the brand.

He says: “Curating rather than creating brands is increasingly going to be the challenge for marketers … you’ve got to be careful that more is more, not more is less.”

Speaking on a separate panel debate, Mark D’Arcy, Facebook director of global creative solutions, advised brands not to get distracted by all the opportunities afforded to them.

He said: “[It’s about] sacrificing things. Looking at all the things you can do but just doing what actually matters. Not doing everything you can do, but stripping everything out and focusing on the one thing that matters.”

Speaking on the same panel, Facebook head of engineering and creator of the News Feed Andrew Bosworth said despite Facebook building the least functional photo sharing capability five years ago with low resolution photos and no additional tools, it grew to be bigger than all its rivals put together within two years because the one useful function it had was photo-tagging.

He added it didn’t matter that other services offered greater functionality because “all people wanted to do was tag and share their photos with friends”.  

Keep up to date with all Marketing Week’s coverage from Cannes Lions 2013 here

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