On agencies 

“Is the agency model broken? All models have decay in them. We have to move forward. Agencies are evolving though, let’s be clear.

“The big holding companies have changed over the last five years. I love agencies, by the way, we’ve been working with JWT and WPP for over 100 years.

“Too often, the marketer’s response when things aren’t going well is to get rid of the agencies.

“But you lose 6-9 months when you do that, through pitches, retooling etc. What you need to do is find the brilliant people inside the agency and get them to work on your business.”

keith weed

On digital job titles 

“I’ve never appointed a chief digital officer. It comes down to the same thing as CSR, their shouldn’t be just one department focused on the issue.

“Is the CDO doing digital so that others don’t have to? It should be mainstream.

“I never put digital or data into anyone’s job title, because it’s the surest way to get them headhunted.”

On staff training 

“We created mandatory training in the form of e-modules. This was very much anti-cultural in Unilever – we didn’t have compulsory training before.

“I also threatened to stick photos on the wall of those that didn’t take part from my team. You have to be cruel to be kind.

“Either get another job or engage right now in making yourself a better marketer, because there’s a generation coming through who are very skilled in this area.

“Organise yourself and find the time to learn.”

On digital trends 

“We need to learn to ‘live the space’ – do everything our consumers do online.”

On brand purpose 

“We need to build brands with purpose. We need to go from ‘marketing to consumers’, to ‘mattering to people’.”


On calling Unilever ‘the biggest digital startup’

“The biggest digital startup? Well, the easy answer is we’re not.

“But it’s important to grab attention in this ever more cluttered world.

And it’s important to change business models, to be inspired by startups, because the model of the past is not the model of the future.”

On millenials

“By 2025, 75% of the workforce will be millennial, so we need to understand them as a workforce, not just as consumers.”

On experimentation

“Investing in stuff is hard. The cycle of ‘experiment, fail, learn, repeat’ is harder. But embracing disruption and agility is hardest.”

On startup culture 

“We do mentoring of startups and then reverse mentoring where we learn from the startups.”

On success 

“80% of success is showing up. We need to show up, then we can compete and build new brands for the future.

“Pull the future forward and the outside in.”

For more from Keith’s talk, see my colleague Nikki’s write up.