Keith Weed, Unilever’s chief marketing and communications officer (CMCO), will retire from the consumer goods giant in May 2019 and has used a wide-ranging interview to offer advice to the next generation of marketers.

Speaking to Marketing Week, he reflected on his 35-year career, which as CMCO included the development of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan and the company’s Unstereotype initiative.

But even though he has been so closely associated with the promotion of diversity and sustainability, Weed said his proudest achievement was in helping Unilever to drive profitability.

“I am most proud that we have grown the sales line and profit every single year in the nine years I’ve been doing this role. I’ve done this while also building a more sustainable business and one with sustainability at its core,” he said.

“I have been able to build the business case for sustainability. A lot of people challenge if you can do both and what we’ve shown at Unilever is yes, you can.”

Dove is a good example in that respect and it emerges that the soap brand is the Unilever brand he is most proud of – although his personal favourites are Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Marmite spread.

“Dove has showed, in a really significant way, how to build a brand with purpose,” Weed said. “On one side creative that really cuts through the clutter and advertising around a really profound purpose around self-esteem and real beauty. It has become the largest educator of self-esteem in the world.”

Indeed, building brands with purpose comes across as something of a personal mission for Weed and it is a core message he delivers for industry practitioners.

“If we as marketers can develop this agenda of brands with purpose we can make marketing noble again,” he said. “We can take marketing back to where it was, which was serving people better than other things they might have and making lives easier.”

Sourced from Marketing Week; additional content by WARC staff