Retail in Asia


EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with world-renowned marketer Keith Weed

In partnership with MarketingPulse, Retail in Asia had the pleasure to interview legendary marketer  Keith Weed, Independent Board Director, WPP PLC and Sainsbury’s PLC and former Global Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, Unilever (2010 – 2019).

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RiA: What’s your definition of a successful marketing campaign?

Keith: A successful marketing campaign needs to make an impact and affect change whether that be purchasing something, viewing something, changing attitudes or even awareness. The most important thing is that clear goals are established that can be measured in some way. You can then assess if your objective has been achieved and if the cost of doing that makes sense and it’s good value for money. It’s as simple as that …..and of course as complex as that at the same time! 

RiA: What are the current challenges for the industry?

Keith: One of the biggest challenges for the industry is the amount and speed of change that has been around us over the last 10+ years. Of course the key step changes have been around the internet and then mobile. But then add AI, AR, VR, voice, data etc. These technologies are driving change at machine speed – not human speed – so at times it can just be difficult to keep up. However our consumers are adopting these new technologies rapidly and often have more up-to-date devices than the ones companies supply their marketers and advertising professionals. 

So the biggest challenge is not just being up to date with all the changes but building capabilities in Marketing and Advertising teams so they can get to the future first and deliver relevant and competitive brand products and services. Capability building and training has never been so important. 

RiA: The pandemic disrupted the way we consume and what we consume. How can companies and marketers keep up with shifting consumer behaviours and expectations?

Keith: I think the way the pandemic has shifted behaviours, habits and attitudes is both profound and far-reaching. There has not been a step change such as this for decades. Whether it be the way people shop, consume products or watch media, the pandemic has accelerated many trends. The importance of bringing  the outside in and the future forward has never been so critical for brands and companies. The need to build capabilities in companies to sense where the world is going and understand trends has never been so important. Those with insight and foresight will adapt their brands the quickest and win.

RiA: Which of the campaigns you have worked on during your tenure as CMO at Unilever are you the proudest? 

Keith: One of the most challenging but rewarding campaigns was to create advertising  for the Unilever corporate brand bringing  Unilever’s purpose of making sustainable living commonplace to life. It had a positive impact not only on the individual product brands but also built what Unilever stands for with consumers and current and future employees. 

RiA: What is your favourite FMCG ad campaign from the past 24 months? Why?

Keith: ‘Courage is Beautiful’ for Dove (the moving tribute to front-line workers featuring the faces of healthcare professionals, etched with the marks from long hours in protective equipment) created by WPP, Cannes Lions 2021 most creative company. It was for Unilever’s Dove brand and is such a marvellous example of an ongoing campaign which has been kept fresh through creativity. It is also a very effective and successful campaign which has made Dove a famous and massive brand globally. 

Source: Dove

RiA:  You said you see sustainability as a driver of consumer-led profitable growth. Can you elaborate on that? How have you integrated sustainability into business in your previous position at Unilever?

Keith: Consumers around the world are increasingly concerned with both the environment and society. Whether that be negative impacts from the climate crisis or social injustice. Of course the prime benefits  people look for from brands are the product benefits or services that improve their lives. However increasingly consumers are also questioning the impact brands have on the environment or society. So at the very least, if brands want to be fit for the future, they should not deliver their benefits at a cost to the planet and society. And even better if they can do it in such a way to have a positive impact in addition to their products’ benefits. 

At Unilever we created a baseline to understand the impact products had and then set objectives  to reduce the negative impacts and where possible seek positive impacts. Measuring progress. In addition purposes were developed for the brands to integrate these sustainability benefits into the brand’s offer. 

RiA: Programmatic, data analytics, metaverse, influencers, ESG, etc. What are the key marketing trends to watch as we head into 2022?

Keith: These are all important marketing trends however the most important shift I am seeing is marketers understanding that while technology and data has significantly improved targeting, it is the quality of the creative and content that has by far the biggest impact on effectiveness. 

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RiA: What will you be sharing at MarketingPulse2022?

Keith: I’ll be looking at some of the pandemic driven big shifts and trends and implications for businesses and brands.