MARKETING SOCIETY AWARDS for EXCELLENCE 2012: Marketer of the year

WINNER Keith Weed - global chief marketing and communications officer, Unilever

Keith Weed, Unilever
Keith Weed, Unilever

The Marketing Society Marketer of the Year award is decided by a select panel of judges. It recognises an individual for their achievements and contribution to the industry over the past year.

In a closely-fought contest, Keith Weed, Unilever's global chief marketing and communications officer, stood out for the judges. He is the driving force behind the brand-owner's ambitious plans for sustainable living, an initiative launched at the end of 2010 by its chief executive, Paul Polman.

Weed is also pivotal in Unilever's aim to double its sales and halve its environmental impact by 2020. He has set the standard for corporate social responsibility (CSR), not just in the UK, but across the globe.

In the past year, Weed, who also oversees all branding and PR activities at the company, has championed the philosophy that brands should build CSR into all their working practices rather than have standalone departments. It is using CSR to drive growth of the business by catering to consumers' needs.

One such example is the soap Lifebuoy. Unilever is putting its weight behind the product in developing markets, highlighting how washing your hands with soap can help to stop infectious diseases spreading. The company also aims to ensure that all its Lipton teabags will be sourced sustainably by 2015.

Before taking on the chief marketing position in 2010, Weed was Unilever's European vice-president for global homecare and hygiene, and has worked for the business in the UK, France and the US.

Unilever's plan to take a 'more magic, less logic' approach to marketing, an initiative led by the brand's senior vice-president of marketing, Marc Mathieu, is overseen by Weed. The aim is to shake up Unilever's numbers-led strategy to reward marketers who are prepared to take risks, and back creative ideas. The brand has created a 10-year plan, designed to 'enable marketers to fail', where previously they had been 'scared' to.

At a time when many marketers have complained privately that the industry is becoming too focused on 'meaningless metrics' at the expense of creativity, Weed's vision has resonated strongly among fellow marketers.

Judges remarked that Weed is revered by Unilever staff and the wider marketing industry alike.


  • John Edwards global brand director, Land Rover
  • Steve Langan group marketing director, Hiscox
  • Suzi Williams group marketing and brand director, BT