BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- Unilever may be a global marketer, but it hasn't been able to do many truly global ad deals -- at least not until its multimillion-dollar deal with Apple to be the consumer goods "presenting advertiser" on the new iAd platform was announced June 7.
For Unilever, the deal aims at tapping the two biggest, and largely interdependent, trends it sees shaping marketing: globalization and mobile digital media.
"We completely believe mobile is going to be the way the vast majority of the world gets online the next few years, especially in developing and emerging markets," said Babs Rangaiah, Unilever's VP-global communications planning, who led negotiations on the deal. "Given our footprint in India, Brazil and around the world, that's very important to us."
More than 60% of iPhones and more than 55% of iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads are outside the U.S., according to an April report by Google-owned mobile-ad network AdMob, making the iAd deal one of Unilever's most global ever.
Dove Men Plus Care, already in distribution in several markets in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Latin America, will be first up with an iAd campaign breaking July 1. Several others are likely to reach the platform, including Axe, Lipton and Ben & Jerry 's, said Mr. Rangaiah, who expects Unilever brands to be lining up for a chance to use it.
"The one thing that's interesting about digital is that it truly is a global medium," Mr. Rangaiah said. "The biggest sites, the biggest properties and the nature of the internet itself is global. The biggest trends are digital and global, and they're feeding off each other and giving us some opportunities to do partnerships that maybe would have been difficult historically. There aren't a lot of television or print properties that are truly global."
The deal also gives Unilever an opportunity to move from doing good digital work in pockets and countries to doing it on a more global scale, he said.
The iAd deal is the first of several to be struck as a result of a trip by nearly two dozen top global Unilever executives to Silicon Valley last month, led by Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Keith Weed and including Mr. Rangaiah; Mike Polk, president of Unilever's global foods, home and personal care; and VP Global Media Laura Klauberg.
In all, Apple said it has signed $60 million in commitments from marketers, naming a mix of 17 national and global advertisers and brands involved. That $60 million represents almost half the market for all mobile advertising in the U.S. in the second half of 2010, Apple said, based on estimates from a January report from JPMorgan.
Other brands and marketers signing on to iAd include AT&T, Best Buy, Campbell Soup Co., Chanel, Citi, DirecTV, Geico, General Electric, JCPenney, Liberty Mutual Group, Nissan, Sears, State Farm, Target , Turner Broadcasting System and Walt Disney Studios.
"You probably can deduce from the numbers Mr. Jobs is throwing around vs. the number of brands that are involved [$60 million divided by 17 over six months] that it's a pretty significant partnership" for Unilever, Mr. Rangaiah said.
"We felt very comfortable that the deal made it on the merits of the media alone," he said. But being a presenting sponsor meant much more, including initial exclusivity in its categories and access to the creative and technical talent at Apple in designing ad models and creative presentations.
"Hey, this is Apple," he said. "It's an amazing brand to start out with. We get access to their creative services, the great design and the things that made Apple what they are, and they're actually helping us build those ad units."