- Unilever announced at Cannes Lions that it is piloting a new agency model where creative talent from different holding groups will be combined into one team, according to a report in Campaign.
- The model is being tested by four of the CPG giant's brands with two unnamed holding companies. It's an effort to eliminate "brand fragmentation" across different channels and better integrate creative, CMO Keith Weed told Campaign.
- Unilever brand managers sometimes struggle with navigating conflicting and channel-specific activities from different groups, which can lead to inconsistency, Weed said. The new model will act as an "integrator," he told Campaign.
As questions linger over the future of the traditional ad agency space, hybrid models that blend talent and expertise from rival agencies appear to be an appealing option for some of the world's top-spending marketers. Pooling agency talent is an approach that Procter & Gamble (P&G), one of Unilever's chief competitors in the packaged goods space, is also taking on. Unilever and P&G are frequently seen as thought leaders for the rest for the marketing industry, so success with these early experiments could lead to broader adoption.
While Weed did not make direct reference to P&G's moves, per Campaign, the marketer's proposed agency pilot closely mirrors some of what P&G announced in April. P&G said it is combining talent from Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, WPP's Grey and Omnicom's Marina Maher Communications and Hearts & Sciences to cover its fabric care business in North America, which includes brands like Tide, Downy and Gain. The new creative initiative, called "People First," is one of three models that P&G is testing.
By bringing together talent from across agencies, Unilever could cut out the clutter to increase transparency and efficiency in its marketing structure — goals it has broadly been focusing on. Unilever, like P&G, has also been bringing more marketing functions in-house and reducing the number of agencies it works with to eliminate waste.