The WFA caught up with nominee – and last year's winner – Keith Weed, who has worked his way up the ladder of Unilever for close to four decades.
As Weed prepares to hand over the chief marketing position in May, his long career of 36 years at the conglomerate has undeniably left an imprint. After he hit headlines in 2017 for openly questioning the extent of digital transparency he was receiving from his media agencies, his relentless ambition to ensure Unilever’s brands give back to the world and their consumers has been a positive force in an industry in need of a clean-up.
Weed recognises the capacity of advertising to impact culture, stating: "If advertising didn’t have power then we wouldn’t all be spending billions on it. Let’s use that power in a positive way to build our brands, but also to build society in a more positive way."
With this vision in mind, Weed has been responsible for spearheading brand messaging with a purpose: from Persil’s global ‘Dirt is Good’ campaign to Dove’s ‘Real Beauty’ ads and Unilever’s UN-supported ‘Unstereotype’ initiative, which aims to remove stereotypes from advertising.
The difficulty that Weed foresees for marketers is that "the consumer is moving more quickly than the industry, and that’s why at times you feel behind - because we are".
"To get to the future first, we’ve got to sort of bring the outside in and really understand where the world is going and then we need that agency to be with us there too," he said.
Weed feels the industry needs to "get marketing back to what marketing really is. I think what we should do is get back to brands and the purpose they have".
"We can make marketing noble again, and we can make society the centre of what marketing serves," he said.
Watch the full interview with Weed above. You can vote for him, or the other finalists for the WFA Marketer of the Year Award, here.