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Unilever CMO Keith Weed to retire after 35 years with company

Unilever’s CMO Keith Weed (pictured) is retiring from his role in April 2019, after 35 years with the company. In a series of tweets, Weed said he has had the pleasure of working with “super people” in Unilever and beyond, and that it has been over a year in planning with exciting challenges to follow.

In his role, Weed said he led “all the levers”, including marketing, sustainability and communications, to create a new business model with “purposeful brands” and sustainability at the core. “This has been positive for Unilever with sales and profit growing year-on-year, but more importantly, positive for people, society and the planet,” Weed said in a tweet.

“I’ve also been able to be part of the amazing business and marketing revolution in the digital world. Engaging in the great things and helping to address some of the unintended consequences. What an incredible journey it has been and will continue to be!” he said. Weed added that his time at Unilever was “hugely enjoyable” and that he has been privileged to work with the “best business minds and experts” in the world.

Marketing has reached out to Unilever for comment. The news comes shortly after Unilever picked president, beauty & personal care, Alan Jope to succeed Paul Polman as CEO, who will retire on 31 December 2018.

Weed has constantly been vocal about more accountability in the digital space. Earlier this year, Weed said Unilever will halt investment on platforms that fail to tackle the issue of fake news, adding that brands should take charge in confronting the “deep systematic issue”. The company also said that it will not invest in platforms that are divisive and encourage anger or hate as social media “should build social responsibility”.

Under his leadership, the company also refused to work with influencers who buy followers, in an effort to push for greater transparency in the influencer marketing space to combat fraud in the digital ecosystem and create better experiences for consumers. Its brands will also “never buy followers”, and instead prioritise partners that increase transparency and help eradicate bad practices throughout the whole ecosystem.

Additionally, the company also saved approximately US$700 million from production costs in 2017, by producing fewer ads and relegating more work in-house. This allowed Unilever to allocate about US$300 million of its productions savings in 2017 to media and in-store marketing.

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