Unilever: 'UK still top for marketing brainpower'

Lara O'Reilly

Unilever’s global communications planning director Geoff Seeley says the UK is still leading the way in “communications thinking”, as the company posted an increase in sales for the third quarter.

Speaking at MediaPro 2011 yesterday (2 November), Seeley said the UK homes the world’s marketing thought leaders, although developing markets are doing “a great job” of executing campaigns, specifically in new media such as mobile and digital.

“We have invested heavily at the centre [in the UK] to transform the way we are undertaking marketing in developing markets. We have a strong CMO in Keith Weed and a mandate from the CEO to [concentrate on growing the brand in emerging economies],” he added.

Unilever CEO Paul Polman forecasts that 80 to 90% of Unilever’s future business will come from developing markets.

Third quarter results announced today (3 November) reported that a 13.1% rise in sales in developing markets such as India and Brazil offset slower growth from developed markets.

Seeley said yesterday that Unilever has produced “pockets of fantastic work” in developing markets, particularly in China where the company recently produced a branded TV programme for its anti-dandruff shampoo brand Clear. Unilever claims the programme and corresponding marketing activity reached one third of the Chinese population and achieved media value of 7.4 times the marketing spend.

Seeley added: “[The UK] still has the [marketing] brainpower and is leading the way we think about communications.”

Unilever reported a 7.8% increase in sales for the third quarter, which it said was driven by increased prices and growth from emerging markets.

The Flora and Dove maker raised prices by 5.8% in the three months to 30 September.

A 2.9% drop in Western European sales were offset by a 2.4% increase in prices. The UK, the company adds, saw “good growth and share gains”.

Rival Procter & Gamble reported a 4% increase in organic sales last week.

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