Unilever is one of the world’s consumer marketing powerhouses, with annual advertising expenditures totaling nearly $9 billion. So when it decides its marketing organization needs rethinking, that’s a pretty big deal. Last week at Cannes Lions, the big award-giving event for creatives, the audience heard Unilever CMO Keith Weed explain the transformation he’s trying to pull off. The philosophy, he explained, is to reorient the function he leads from marketing to people, through marketing with people, to the point that brands are marketing for people.
As befits a marketer, Weed was using pithy phrasing to capture something he has thought a lot about: the idea that, as every aspect of marketing’s toolkit is transformed by new digital capabilities, its ambitions should probably change, too. And so should the shape, roles, and skills of the organization that calls itself marketing. As Weed writes in the current issue of HBR (with coauthors Marc de Swaan Arons and Frank van den Driest): “In the past decade, what marketers do to engage customers has changed almost beyond recognition …. Yet in most companies the organization structure of the marketing function hasn’t changed since the practice of brand management emerged, more than 40 years ago.”
Think for a moment about those changes. Marketing departments now need to be expert in digital advertising, with all its search engine optimization and real-time auctioning of pages. They’ve had to come up to speed on new performance metrics, and answer any skepticism about ROI. They must constantly engage with audiences through social media, and be seen as authentic in those channels. They need to be experienced designers, and masters of “the art of the launch.”
The list hardly ends there. Marketing departments must now be stocked with data scientists – and also the kinds of subject matter experts that can oversee content marketing and brand publishing. They must be tuned in to sustainability and up on the social science of starting movements. And did we mention that everyone must be globally minded, too?
These are huge, new requirements, any one of which might call for a clean slate reconsideration of how one might design a marketing organization. The fact that they are all happening simultaneously has many chief marketing officers struggling to find the place to start.
To help bring clarity to the challenge – and plenty of valuable suggestions – HBR will publish a series of expert perspectives over the coming month. We’ll hear from renowned CMOs, agencies, analysts, and the leading scholars researching what works in marketing management. We expect, too, to benefit from many readers’ experiences and hear their voices – maybe yours.
By collecting a range of ideas and information, presented in multiple formats, we’re trying to create a rich collection that is more than the sum of its parts. And that’s appropriate: it’s a reminder of the most challenging task CMOs face today, given the proliferation of channels and forms of communication they have at their fingertips. Being in a market where a marketer can, as Weed puts it, “do absolutely anything” creates another whole layer of challenge: the problem of “how we hold our brands together – how we create integration in a market and media that is fragmented.” Multiply those options by the more than 1,000 brands his organization supports and it’s “the biggest thing we need to get our minds around.”Go to Source