The Vice-President of Marketing for Unilever's 'Dirt Is Good' brands, Tati Lindenberg, speaks about climate change, the complexity of managing global brands and pushing the boundaries for seemingly small things.

Read the whitepaper 'Local, global or glocal: Effective brand governance in the age of marketing transformation' here.

Headshot of Tati Lindenberg

Tati Lindenberg, Vice-President of Marketing, Unilever

It has become more complex to manage and govern global brands. What has made this more complex over time?

Speed. That's where the complexity comes in, despite the common trends all over the world. It's the speed of change and delivery that's so much faster than before. And running a business at speed for more than 45 markets is even more challenging.

Creatively speaking, it is all about 'Power to the People'. In the future, brands are unlikely to entirely control their narrative as more and more people are creating and owning content. We used to have a higher degree of control when working with influencers. Now, there is a significant amount of content crafted by micro-influencers and people who simply want to share their point-of-view on a brand, a behaviour, etc.

How do you manage to be successful? What’s the model?

From a global point of view, we have no intention to craft nor produce everything for everyone. We've moved from a world where we'd create a global campaign and carefully adapt it to run in at least 10 countries. It required a lot of investment and time. Now, we are moving to a model in which we have a big idea, create a master (or a playbook) which sets the campaign's tonality and hand it over to the markets, who are equipped to do it faster – and better.

When you create a playbook, what does it look like? Is it just a PDF or are there other formats that you use to get it out?

We do use PDFs. However, we also create master multimedia assets to inspire the markets and set the context and tone of voice of a given campaign. Often, we partner with one market to do so – and this makes the playbook more actionable and easier to be adapted. And, when it comes to digital, we create modular design templates. Overall, it's a combination of playbooks in PDFs, master assets and templates.

What about the way that agencies are involved in global campaigns?

We follow a sort of three-tier system. The big idea is always crafted by IPG. The complex adaptations are also made by IPG, but usually one of their regional agencies e.g., MullenLowe Singapore. And, when it comes to d-commerce and in-store assets, we tend to work with creative independents or in-house design agencies.

What is the best way to deal with things when they go wrong?

Local knowledge is critical. On some rare occasions, things do not go as intended because we have not considered the local nuances as we should have. That's why a constant and candid dialogue between central and local teams is fundamental. For instance, even though I am Brazilian, I do not dare signing off a voice-over or approving a casting without the Brazil team because I moved out of Sao Paulo nine years ago. Another example – the France team and I debated over a scene showing a kid saving a duck stuck in mud. The team was keen to replace it with a less-memorable scene – a kid planting a tree. It seemed to be a matter of preference, but it was driven by regulatory concerns. Being clear about the local content allowed both central and France teams to find a solution to get the necessary regulatory approvals and produce an extraordinary asset (keeping the duck!).

Some trends you can elaborate on in terms of global brand governance?

One refers to the intergenerational insights. At Dirt Is Good, we want to inspire people to dream and dare, with no fear of getting dirty. The most compelling way to illustrate it is by showing kids daring and getting dirty in the process. To do so, we need to look at the relationship between millennials (who are now parents), gen-Z and gen-Alpha. The conflicts and wishes among them are the inspirational behind most DIG stories, including our recent #TAGTHEGAME campaign.

The second is climate change. Regardless of laundry not being the largest contributor to climate change, the more we can do to reduce our impact, the better. Reducing plastic, moving to renewable sources of carbon and more biodegradable materials are some of the actions we are taking. We are also making our products better so people can wash at lower temperatures and quick cycles without compromises on cleaning.