Unilever plans in-house branded content division


Unilever is launching two units dedicated to branded content, as the FMCG giant follows Mondelez and PepsiCo into in-house content creation.


The move was revealed by a jobs post on LinkedIn searching for global directors to lead two new content teams.

The business is reportedly working with Oliver Group, which has managed similar projects for companies including BMW and Ryanair.

Under the new project, Unilever will create 'U-Studio', integrated across various parts of the business that will focus on what it calls "needs content" (content sought out by consumers that meets an immediate need related to a brand or product).

The second team, called 'U-Entertainment', will be focused on "passions content" and will work to pair Unilever’s global brands with partners in the entertainment industry to create content the company will co-own.

In the job recruitment post on LinkedIn, Unilever said there were two key reasons driving the scheme- ad blocking and changing consumer search behaviour.

The move towards more branded content follows the growing threat of ad blocking and the need to adapt its strategies to reach people who are more inclined to block ads. The content will aim to avoid what Unilever calls "interruption-based advertising." It adds that people are increasingly looking for "seek-out content."

The second reason is the fact that how people search is changing, actively seeking-out curated experiences with brands. “The cleverest brands use seek-out content to capitalise on this behaviour,” the post for U-Studio's lead reads.

“They create branded properties, services and information people genuinely seek-out…. We can drive big SEO effects and push towards conversion by operating in this space."

Brands becoming publishers- becoming a destination consumers choose to visit

"Content” is distinct from advertising in the marketing world, defined as material people are actively looking for, enjoy, and choose to spend time with.

The approaches marketers need to create engaging content are often subtly different than those for advertising – for example a YouTube how-to for a hairstyle tip doesn’t need the same level of production value as a 30 second primetime TV spot that has a $10m media budget behind.

Since 2010, Unilever has been stepping up in its digital marketing approaches, and this represents a very clear next step to unlock greater cost efficiencies in production as well as creating capabilities to produce relevant content at scale.

Most consumer-facing brands have struggled with this space, and outside a few exceptions like Red Bull, there aren’t many strong content studios in-house. That’s why others will be watching Unilever closely with this latest move.

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