Category Advertising
21 March 2016,

Brand & marketing managers in South East Asia have implemented social marketing campaigns on an ad hoc basis. There appears to be no knowledge platform, mostly because no processes are being followed, no monitoring is being done, and marketers are essentially operating in silos. The agencies seldom provide training or adequate knowledge and hence social campaigns run unchecked in terms of costing, platforms and performance.

Smart digital agencies recognized early on that there was no framework or continuity for – what was then considered – emerging media. There was also the focus on vanity metrics, with marketers fixating on agencies that could get them over one million likes , regardless of how many where fake. Customer education became priority #1.

Around the same time, Unilever’s global strategy team had informed all markets that digital would become the main thrust of marketing in the coming year. That’s when Amir Paracha, the VP of Marketing set out to form a Digital Media Council. He was supported by four marketers (with brands that had a strong digital marketing footprint) and one representative each of the media, insights, IT and communications departments.

Unilever Digital Media Council met on a monthly basis, with the first order of business to share knowledge on campaign executed and reach an equal field on awareness. They didn’t trust the agencies to teach them in the beginning because every time they did – even at the quarterly Marketing forum – it was all commercially lead, not knowledge lead. The second order of business was to formulate a strategy for digital marketing and align it with the overall marketing strategy. The final order of business was to put a process in place for digital marketing – a system whereby the marketer and agency were both accountable.

Here’s what the council did next:

– Put a framework and SOP in place to counter issues highlighted.
– Decided against ad hoc campaigns so that digital would always be on.
– Assigned agencies to brands to stick with them and be evaluated at the end of the year.
– Monitored spends & activity on a monthly basis, so everyone in the company had visibility of and on what everyone else was doing.
– Mandated that a certain percentage of marketing budget had to be spent on digital.

In order to get VP’s on-board the idea for allocating 5% (instead of 0.8%) of the marketing budget towards emerging media, the council started a reverse mentoring program, where each council member was assigned to a VP and taught them about emerging media from the ground up.

When the council needed someone to spearhead its “Social Media Capability Building” workshops, they turned to Falak Jalil, a gold medalist known for executing the top performing campaign on Global Handwashing Day. She ran a two-day workshop on social media, how it’s used and how it be should be used for their brands.

As this was the earliest stage of social & digital in marketing, metric of success or ROMI, were fixated on likes, share, re-tweets and other engagement focused measures. Today Unilever focuses on higher levels of measurement, with alliances with Rocket Internet’s Daraz.pk for selling family packs of their household care and personal care categories.

Last year Unilever won the number-one spot in the WARC ranking of global advertisers.