Raahil Chopra
Jun 22, 2023

Cannes Lions 2023: ‘Focus on purpose even though it has lost sexiness’

Unilever’s Conny Braams and Alessandro Manfredi discuss how brands can grow in the ‘ever-changing’ landscape

Cannes Lions 2023: ‘Focus on purpose even though it has lost sexiness’
Day three of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity kicked off with Conny Braams, chief digital and commercial officer, Unilever, taking to the stage and confirming her exit from the company after 33 years.
After making that announcement, Braams discussed how brands can be grown in today’s ‘ever-changing landscape’.
“After being blessed with a couple of decades of relative ease in marketing, everything is changing. Consumers are changing. The way they shop is changing. Technology, business and marketing are changing too. Now as marketers, we have to change too,” she said.
Braams stated that the way people are living, shopping and playing has changed drastically.
“People are moving away from traditional living. Single households are increasing. 36 markets worldwide are seeing populations decrease. People above 60 now make up 20% of the population, yet only 6% of the ads feature that age group. Ads with people above 60 are taken more note of,” she said before playing a Magnum ad as a case in point.
She added, “The global second-hand market in clothing is about become a USD 360 billion industry, so the way people are shopping is changing too. The gaming industry is the biggest within the entertainment industry and the average age of a gamer is 35. It’s attracting a mass population. So entertainment is becoming shopping and will soon become e-commerce.”
Braams stated that generative AI has just about started touching the world, and soon the human brain will find it difficult to keep up with it.
Based on this, she said that Unilever works on three principles to build brands:
1: Get read
2: Do good
3: Be unmissable
Alessandro Manfredi, chief marketing officer, Dove, took over from Braams and stated how Dove focuses on emotions while advertising.
“According to a Kantar study, brand differentiation has gone down the drain over the last 10 years. This is the biggest challenge for CMOs now. We need to stand out. With new channels, it’s easy to lose the plot but we need a compass to navigate change,” he said.
Manfredi urged brands to focus on purpose even though he believed it has lost a little ‘sexiness’ over the last couple of years.
“You have to put it at the heart of the business model. You also need to look at consistency. While change is appreciated, consistency is needed for long-term growth,” he added.
He went on to showcase Dove’s ‘Self Esteem Project’, which was based on the insight that eight out of 10 young girls don’t feel confident about their bodies.
“As we continue to dig more, we need to impact the society. Our campaigns also need to impact society and bring systematic change,” he said before showcasing Dove’s ‘The Reverse Selfie’ which was based on the insight that social media affects body confidence for young girls.
Braams returned to the stage to discuss how Unilever is working across retail media, using ad-supported streaming and influencer marketing across brands to grow.
The duo ended their talk by discussing influencers.
“Retail media can be treated strategically too. Ad-supported streams help place brands with premium content. We can also create our own branded content. Influencers and creators have become important to us. In an era where trust is scarce, 61% of consumers trust influencers,” she said.
On the influencer topic, Manfredi stated that brands need to be selective and build relations for long term instead of one-time transactions.


Campaign India

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