What’s next for Unilever as long-serving CMO Weed departs?

It’s nice when someone’s able to leave their job without an investigation in sight and the Twittersphere is loaded with tributes to Unilever’s departing CMCO to give him his full moniker (the ‘C’ stands for communications) Keith Weed.

It’s another big change at the world’s second biggest advertiser (or is that third now, with some saying Samsung has taken top spot ahead of P&G) following the departure of also long-serving CEO Paul Polman and his replacement by Alan Jope. Weed (below) has been at Unilever a mind-boggling 35 years and may have been a candidate for the top job.

Weed’s biggest achievement is probably the growth of Unilever’s flagship ethical brand Dove but recently he’s also taken the fight to internet fraudsters and at Cannes this year turned his sights on dodgy “influencers.” He’s also cut down the number of agencies Unilever uses dramatically and brought much production work in-house through the U-Studios deal with Oliver.

2018 really has seen a changing of the guard in adland/marketing, most notably the departure of Sir Martin Sorrell from WPP, Unilever’s biggest agency partner. Will Unilever be as happy with newly-minted Wunderman Thompson as it was with the old knights in Berkeley Square?

Whoever succeeds Weed can presumably be expected to deliver more from the same transformation menu, especially if it’s an insider. But Weed’s replacement is a big call for new CEO Jope. He may decide to shake things up a bit by bringing in an outsider. He’ll certainly ensure that women are well represented on the shortlist.

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Keith Weed unilever

About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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