BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- Unilever has appointed longtime general manager Keith Weed as its chief marketing officer effective April 1, succeeding the outgoing Simon Clift, who announced his departure last month.
Mr. Weed, 48, is currently exec VP-global home care, oral care and water. With his move, Unilever is for the first time adding "communications" to the CMO title and making the position part of the Unilever executive committee, reporting to CEO Paul Polman.
"This is the first time Unilever has had a CMO at its top table," Mr. Polman said in a statement, "and is a key step to having a sharper consumer focus in the company. Keith will be leading marketing, including the development of the Unilever brand, and will also assume responsibility for the communications function. "
Mr. Weed led the Lever Faberge personal-care business in Europe until 2005, when he assumed his current position and became responsible for handing expanded global duties in laundry care to Bartle Bogle Hegarty. On his watch in 2007, Unilever divested its North American laundry business after years of losing share to Procter & Gamble Co., the category leader in North America.
That business, including All, Wisk and Surf, went to private-label manufacturer Huish, owned by private-equity firm Vestar. Mr. Weed remains on the board of the resulting company, Sun Products, in which Unilever retains a minority stake.
Most recently, he's led Unilever home care at a time when P&G is laying siege to some of its strongholds in developing markets, with the two sides currently engaged in a bruising battle of comparative ads in India as P&G looks to take share with a value-priced Tide Naturals line.
Unilever spent $5.7 billion on measured media in 2008, and is the No. 2 global marketer after Procter & Gamble, according to the Ad Age DataCenter ranking of the 100 Top Global Marketers.