We still need ad agencies says Unilever’s Keith Weed – just not for everything

In particular Unilever doesn’t need ad agencies to supply the vast amounts of video consumers seem to require these days, new chief marketing officer Keith Weed told journalists this week.

Weed was announcing the winner of the Unilever Creative Challenge, hosted with Mofilm, its first exercise in so-called ‘crowdsourcing’ for content for 13 of its most famous brands. The winner was Ryoko Kwanishi from Japan for a charming little film about Vaseline.

It is also a very professional little film which highlights the inadequacy of the trendy new term crowdsourcing. This rather suggests you approach thousands of people at random and receive submissions they’ve just knocked off on their phone. In fact the exercise is more like an X Factor for budding professional film makers.

But, as Weed said, making a 30-second commercial these days costs hundreds of thousands of pounds (yes, it’s still true) and takes forever. So even big clients like Unilever can’t afford to go this route for every bit of video, often experimental, they require.

It will be interesting to see what use Unilever makes of Kwanishi’s Vaseline film.

And it’s good to see Unilever, in the person of Weed, opening up about the theory and indeed practice of the company’s marketing. Mentioning production costs outside of an off-the-record rant is surely a first.

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About David O'Reilly

David is a former deputy editor of Campaign and writer for a number of leading titles including Management Today and the Sunday Times. He is a partner in The Editorial Partnership.