Unilever to advertise corporate brand on UK TV for first time

Unilever will advertise its corporate brand on UK TV for the first time as part of its “Project Sunlight” campaign as it looks to raise awareness of the sustainability work it is doing.

Unilever is promoting its sustainability scheme Project Sunlight in its first UK TV ads for the corporate brand
Unilever is promoting its sustainability scheme Project Sunlight in its first UK TV ads for the corporate brand

The TV ad, which breaks on Sunday (9 November) during the X Factor results show, focuses on famous speeches by Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi that helped to change the world. It goes on to show speeches by young campaigners, including UK representative Grace, and how new challenges such as food poverty, food waste and poor sanitation need to be tackled.

The 60-second film debuts in the UK before rolling out in the US and Indonesia over the next few weeks and two further countries in 2015. It will then be replaced by a 30-second film exclusive to the UK that features Grace telling her story.

Both films aim to encourage consumers to get involved in Unilever’s sustainability work in a couple of ways. The first is by visiting the Project Sunlight website where they will be given the opportunity to donate meals to Unilever’s charity partner Oxfam, to donate their own time to help the charity and will also offer tips and advice on avoiding food waste.

Secondly, Unilever will run a social campaign using the hashtag #clearaplate, with the idea being that people take a picture of an empty plate of food to show they support the campaign

The move into TV advertising follows the launch of Unilever’s first corporate campaign last year with the introduction of Project Sunlight. It aimed to communicate Unilever’s sustainability initiatives and get people involved with an online film dedicated website.

That initial film has been watched 77 million times and inspired more than 137 million “acts of sunlight” – engagement by consumers such as going to the website or donating time or money to sustainability issues.

Telling the Unilever brand story

Speaking to Marketing Week Unilever’s VP of brand building for food and refreshment, Jon Goldstone, said this was a historic moment for Unilever as it looked to go to the “next level of reach” to tell the story of the Unilever brand.

He admitted that the linkage between the Unilever brand and its purchase brands, which include Hellman’s, Dove and Knorr, is “relatively weak” and that as consumers grow increasingly interested in the companies behind the brands they buy it wanted to tell its story.

“If you ask people what brands Unilever produces people will name a few but they are always surprised by the breadth of brands we own.

“Not everyone realises that Unilever is the company that produces these well-known brands and we genuinely think we have a fantastic story to tell about sustainability, which is the DNA that goes through the whole organisation. That is a story we don’t tell to consumers that clearly,” he added.

Since Project Sunlight was set up it has helped more than 2 million children – providing 1 million school meals, 500,000 children with safe drinking water and another 500,000 with improved sanitation. As part of the renewed push, Unilever is also pledged to provide a further 500,000 meals to show consumers that it too is getting involved.

Driving Engagement

Goldstone said the success of the campaign will be judged on that engagement – how many people click through to the website, use the hashtag or offer to volunteer.

“A key metric is awareness of Unilever, Project Sunlight and also the brands that Unilever makes but this is not simply about awareness, we want to drive real interest and action as well,” he said.

This is not simply about awareness, we want to drive real interest and action as well.”

Unilever’s Jon Goldstone

The decision to launch in the X Factor came about, said Goldstone, because of the desire to get this broad reach but also because the audience is very digitally active while they are watching the programme.

“There is a high level of dual-screen activity, it is one of the programmes where that is at its highest and the X Factor does a great job of driving that behaviour and encouraging people to pick up their mobile phone or tablet. We want them to pick it up and take a look at what Unilever is up to.

“Related to that is the fact that this is a family and young person demographic, exactly the audience we are trying to engage with. We want to show that everyone can have a voice, that sustainable living is not for the few and that anyone can have an opinion on it,” he said.


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