Cannes Lions

Unilever Gets in Touch With Vice's Feminine Side

Marketer Strikes Content and Ad Deal With Offering for Women Called Broadly

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Unilever is getting in touch with Vice's feminine side as the marketer gets in on the ground floor of Broadly, an offering for women set to launch in August.

Keith Weed
Keith Weed

The wide-ranging deal will include some conventional advertising but focus heavily on content, initially covering the U.S., U.K. and Canada and four global Unilever brands – Dove, Tresemme, Vaseline and Degree (the last of which goes by Rexona and Sure outside the U.S.)

Vice's edgy style has made it one of the hottest media properties for men, and Unilever is hoping to tap into a similar phenomenon for women. In a press briefing during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity on Tuesday, Unilever Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Keith Weed said Unilever similarly got in on the ground floor of Vice's development five years ago. If anything, Broadly holds more promise for Unilever, which also markets Axe, but gets 77% of purchases overall from women, he said.

"What we're doing now is real-time development and testing," Mr. Weed said. "What works we'll build on." Asked how the creative would be developed, Mr. Weed smiled, put his arm around Vice Chief Creative Director Eddy Moretti, and said, "You're looking at the creative team right here."

Content created by Vice for YouTube, its own player and ultimately TV and even feature films, is the key draw for Unilever.

"There are so many people building the pipes," Mr. Weed said. "But what's going to go down the pipes? What are we going to be looking at on our mobiles?"

"Rather than go for a billion users, our philosophy is to have a really deep and committed community," Mr. Moretti said.

Shanon Kelley, publisher of Broadly, said it will produce daily editorial content on subjects that matter to women, including politics, culture, sex and fashion.

Mr. Weed noted recent research from Microsoft finding people's average attention span has dropped from 12 to 8 seconds in recent years, one second shy of the average for goldfish. "We're fast becoming an industry not talking about what's the best idea you had, but what's the best idea you had the past five seconds," he said.

So Unilever welcomes Vice's average video view of more than 7 minutes. Of course, it's still doing plenty of advertising elsewhere, such as on Facebook, where Mark D'Arcy, chief creative officer of the social network's Creative Studio, mentioned in another Cannes press briefing that 6 to 10 seconds of video is the ideal window for making a thumb-stopping impact.

Beyond Broadly, Unilever has already teamed with Mr. Moretti and Vice on something other than content for lads – sustainability, which is both a favorite subject of Mr. Weed and officially part of his job. Vice produces content for Collectively.org, a site that publishes a variety of lifestyle videos and content that ultimately contains sustainability messages but aren't focused on the environment or social issues. Unilever has helped bring together a host of marketers, some of them competing, to back that effort, including Coca-Cola Co., Nestle and PepsiCo, Marks & Spencer and MillerCoors.

As proof that such deals can come with editorial freedom, Mr. Weed noted one of Collectively's first efforts last year was unflattering to household cleaners.

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