Unilever Boss Heralds Age of 'Branded Content'

27 November 2003

The chairman of Unilever has warned advertisers they must adopt new ways of engaging with customers if they are to succeed.

In a speech to the Publicity Club of London, Niall FitzGerald declared that the "interrupt and repeat" model of advertising is in decline, and marketers can no longer expect to force "messages and memorability into the skulls of the audience."

FitzGerald believes that, as consumers become more sophisticated and markets fragment, marketers and agencies must try to make advertising as engaging as the content next to which it appears.

"Today we should conceive and evaluate our brand communication as though it were content -- because today, in effect, that is what it is," he added. "We are in the branded content business."

FitzGerald -- who has overseen a sell-off of Unilever's non-core products -- also believes that worldwide brands will become increasingly prominent in the years ahead.

"Global brands," he continued, "will drive out many local ones with the growth of transnational media and the geographic expansion of the best multinational companies."

Data sourced from: Media Week (UK); additional content by WARC staff