Unilever steps up plans to ‘take risks’ with new marketing platforms

Mobile World Congress 2014: Unilever has selected seven marketing technology start-ups to invest in as part of its Go Global incubator initiative as it looks to outside help to “take risks” with new marketing platforms.

Unilever Go Global
Unilever selects seven marketing technology start-ups to invest in as part of its Go Global incubator initiative as it looks to build on ‘pioneer marketing’ status.

Unilever launched its Go Global start-up hunt in December, which has seen it pair with marketing start-ups in the area of content, mobile and connected devices in exchange for financial and mentorship support. More than 400 companies applied

Each company – the names of which will be revealed early next month – has been awarded $100,000 and their technology will be incorporated into campaigns from Magnum, Surf, Flora Pro-Activ, Hellman’s, Vaseline and Clear across seven different territories.

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

He added: “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 investing in new technologies does throw up challenges, particularly around privacy where there are not yet industry standards on devices such as mobile and in ensuring marketing messaging is not too intrusive.

“By investing and experimenting with new partnerships and technologies it will bring us places that we are maybe not 100 per cent comfortable with. The challenge is that there’s a risk,” he said.

But with risk, such experimentation will help Unilever’s marketers focus on the wider ecosystem outside the brands they guardian, he added.

“Working with entrepreneurs will provide our marketers with a reality check, for (entrepreneurs) it really is live or die (in terms of business success). The marketing industry can be so internally focused but start-ups are so externally focused…we need to let conventions go…people empowerment is the ultimate goal,” Mathieu said.

It is expected that the first campaigns in partnership with the finalists will go live in the second quarter of this year.