Unilever backs digital start-ups as it looks to develop ‘groundbreaking’ marketing

Unilever has selected the seven winning marketing start-ups that will take part in its Go Global incubator initiative and have the opportunity to develop ‘groundbreaking’ digital marketing campaigns for brands including Hellman’s, Magnum, Vaseline and Surf.

Unilever Go Global
Unilever reveals winners of Go Global start-up programme

The winners include music services Africori and Songza, app developer NewAer, health startup LifeSum and Thoughtful Media, a content network that works on video platforms including YouTube.

The seven startups will each receive £100,000 and be offered mentorship support in exchange for creating digital marketing campaigns in areas including content, mobile and connected devices. The campaigns will run across markets in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.

Unilever launched its Go Global start-up hunt in December. More than 400 companies applied from 46 countries with the first campaigns in partnership with the winners expected to go live in the second quarter of this year.

Speaking to Marketing Week at Mobile World Congress last month, Unilever’s senior vice president of marketing Marc Mathieu said the initiative aims to help the company build on its status as a “pioneer in marketing”.

“Start-ups are very nimble, agile and very much able to take risks to invent new marketing platforms…and create new experimental and future models (that we can tap into at an early stage). More brands are bringing (start-up companies) inside as a strategy opportunity because part of being a big corporate or agency is the need to move away from an insular world. And Go Global helps companies go from start-up to scale up,” he said.

Go Global is similar to initiatives run by other FMCG companies as they look to keep ahead of marketing trends. Last year brands including BMW, Heinz, Panasonic, AB-Inbev and Ideal Standard took part in an accelerator scheme called The Bakery aimed at funding marketing technology startups, while Mondolez has previously partnered with mobile start-ups for its “Mobile Futures” programme.

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