Unilever New Ads Empahsize Green Initiatives

Unilever has more than 1,000 global brand products, and two of them are highlighted in new TV spots: one for laundry brand Omo and one for Hellmann’s Mayonnaise.

Both ads reference responsible resourcing and sustainability as other Unilever brands—including Flora, Comfort, Sure, Dove and Knorr—appear and fly into the Unilever “U” logo. The company hopes the “U” logo will become the “trust mark of sustainable living,” according to Keith Weed, Unilever’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer.

That seems like lofty aspiration for a primarily soup and soap company—but is very much on point for this major CPG brand.

The Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) was introduced in 2010 with a goal to double the size of the business while halving its environmental footprint by 2020. The USLP publishes an annual report with details on company progress against time-sensitive targets.

“The USLP is, of course, a way of doing business but it’s also the reason to believe, the differentiator ultimately of the Unilever brand. We didn’t want to have borrowed interests or be sponsoring this and sponsoring that. Fundamentally, when we came to tell the truth about the Unilever brand, it had to have real robust content,” weed said.

Weed’s job is to coalesce two key corporate functions—advertising and communications and internal and external—as well as being Unilever’s public face of sustainability. “You can’t have marketing in one corner selling more stuff with sustainability in another trying to save the world,” said Weed. “Bring them together because are two sides of the same coin. Let’s try and do marketing in such a way that we are addressing real social challenges.”

Unilever CEO Paul Polman said at the time, “With scale comes responsibility, so we must continue to play a leadership role in seeking solutions for global transformational issues like climate change, food security and poverty alleviation.”

Last year Unilever created Collectively, a nonprofit platform for millennials created with BT, Carlsberg, Marks & Spencer and Coca-Cola around sustainable innovation in fashion, food, design and technology. It also launched The Foundry to attract startups in sustainable business.

At the United Nations summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda last week, Unilever was a key advisor and Polman received the UN’s Champion of the Earth award for his work as a “tireless advocate” for sustainable business. Meanwhile Unilever dominated Globescan’s 2015 Sustainability Leaders Survey for the fifth consecutive year.

Unilever is the very model of lofty aspirations with a growing corporate conscience.
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