SINGAPORE: The smartphone revolution has transformed how Unilever approaches marketing communications in Asia, according to senior executive at the company.

David Porter, Unilever’s VP of Global Media for Asia, believes that the smartphone has changed attitudes towards advertising, with consumers less tolerant of an interruption on their smart device.

Unilever, one of the world’s largest FMCG companies, must likewise adapt to a changing world when it comes to their brand marketing efforts. (For more, see WARC’s exclusive report: Unilever's five tips for winning in Asia's changing world.)

"The way people are using that phone now interrupts everything that we do," said Porter, noting that even in markets where TV audiences aren't falling, attention spans still are.

"There's always been an unspoken contract in the West between us as viewers, and broadcasters and brands. As viewers, we tolerate advertising – 'That's the price I pay for having free access to TV' – and we all go along with it… That all changed with mobile," Porter said.

"It's completely changed the way in which we (at Unilever) think about how to communicate."

For Unilever, the mobile revolution has meant the company needs to rethink its creative approach. According to Porter, shorter advertisements – 10 to 15 seconds – could be part of the equation. It’s increasingly a fact of life in Asia that consumers are less interested in long ads, especially on their mobiles.

"We have so much less time... (just) two or three seconds to convey our core message, and we can't avoid that fact," he said, noting that 30 second ads are a “luxury” in Asia now.

"What was the acceptable bar for quality and creative assets have risen dramatically," he observed.

"Getting the assets right is tougher than it ever was. The creative process is tougher."

Data sourced from WARC