Unilever, Lufthansa, Vente Privee Honored With European CMO Awards

Booz & Co. Distinction Handed Out at Frankfurt Ceremony

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Unilever's Simon Clift was a winner at the European CMO of the year awards.
Unilever's Simon Clift was a winner at the European CMO of the year awards. Credit: Jason Alden
LONDON (AdAge.com) -- Unilever, Lufthansa and online shopping club Vente Privee are the winners of this year's European CMO of the year awards, presented in Frankfurt by international strategy consultants Booz & Co.

Winner Simon Clift, who took on his role as Unilever's first dedicated CMO in 2008 after 27 years with the company, won for his development of a global brand management model, moving the company away from a regional mindset and toward a more centralized message.

In 2008 Unilever's underlying sales growth increased from 5.5% to 7.4% and operating margin improved from 13.1% to 17.7%.

As well as overseeing some of the most high-profile marketing of the last few years -- including the Dove and Lynx campaigns -- Mr. Clift has helped to create a balance between leveraging the scale of Unilever and ensuring that brand strategies are attuned to local consumers. The new "One Unilever" way of working is designed to make sure that the best ideas thrive regardless of where they are developed, and make space for creative thinking.

Lufthansa's exec VP-marketing and sales, Thierry Antinori, joined the airline in 2000 after 11 years at Air France. He launched the Brand Academy, which turns every employee into a brand ambassador after a week's course, and set up a department for professional brand management, building the brand internally and externally.

The first nine months of 2009 were difficult for all airlines, and Lufthansa was no exception, with revenue down 13.2%. This year Mr. Antinori temporarily increased the airline's marketing budget by 50% and shifted most of the spend online.

His aim has been to develop a greater emotional appeal for the Lufthansa brand, to match its high ratings for trust and technology. His commitment to building the More & More loyalty program has already paid off: members increased to 16.7 million in 2008, up from 11.6 million in 2007, accompanied by an increased corporate customer ratio that rose from 30% in 2003, to 43% in 2008.

At online shopping club Vente Privee, founder Jacques-Antoine Granjon has used personal recommendation and viral marketing to sell 850 brands to 9 million members. The company, which started in France in 2001, has expanded to Germany, Spain, Italy and the U.K.

Vente Privee is a pioneer in event-based retailing -- a private-sales website selling discounted designer stock. While its mainstay is fashion, it has successfully expanded into other areas: It recently sold 93 cars in less than an hour, 100 apartments in 72 hours, and 100,000 bottles of wine in a week.

Sales in 2008 reached $650 million, up from just $1.3 million four years previously, trading on strong relationships with 6.6 million unique visitors per month. Mr. Granjon has not embraced traditional advertising, but he has nonetheless created a clearly defined brand by paying fastidious attention to detail.

About 9,000 photos of his stock are taken every day in his own photographic studios, and there are even five music studios where music is recorded to promote the sales -- every singer is auditioned and nothing escapes the creative supervision of the 46-year-old art collector.

The jury, which chose the three winners for 2009 included Hugh Burkitt, CEO of Marketing Society in the U.K.; Gerhard Berssenbrügge, board chairman of Nestle Deutschland; Harals Eisenacher, board member at Deutsche Telekom; and Amanda Jobbins, a VP at Cisco Systems.

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