Cannes Lions

Unilever Returns to Cannes With a More Organized Startup Lineup

This Year's Foundry 50 Divided Into Five Groups, With Bigger Developing Market Contingent

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Credit: Unilever

Unilever is returning to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity with its second crop of top marketing-tech startups but in a more organized way, dividing honorees and sessions into five categories during the Lions Innovation sub-festival June 21-22.

Unilever's Foundry 50 (technically 49 this year, since one needed to drop out) are plucked from 4,500 startups Unilever has reviewed over the the past two years. The new crop is divided evenly into companies focused on brand content and innovation; data, insights and personalization; engaging millennials; social impact and future of retail.

"What we tried to do this year was the same but better," said Aline Santos, Unilever senior-VP global marketing. "Now we have a very clear brief in terms of the territories we want the startups to play with."

The Foundry is the portal through which tech startups connect with Unilever's 400 brands, so far through 100 have done so in pilots, about half of which have led to further work. About two-thirds of brands that have engaged with the startups have seen revenue increase as a result, she said, and campaigns using Foundry startups have above-average engagement with consumers.

Sessions on each area of innovation will take the form of a reverse pitch, where a Unilever brand representative will participate. Social impact comes first on June 21 from 11-11:30 a.m., followed by the data/insights/personalization group at 2-2:30 p.m. and engaging millennials from 4 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. On June 22 will be future of retail from noon to 12:30 p.m. and brand/content innovation from 3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Besides Ms. Santos, the committee choosing the Foundry 50 included Brent Hoberman, travel site co-founder; Rob Dembitz, head of Lions Innovation; marketing communications firm Karamarama Creative Director Jo Jenkins; and Olivier Garel, head of Unilever Ventures.

Among the startups showcased are Pavegen, which creates footstep-powered energy; Proximus, which provides in-store customer tracking technology for shopper research; and Lisnr, an app that responds to "smart tones" to unlock content from brands on phones.

Although some have headquarters in multiple cities, about half of the Foundry 50 are headquartered in the U.K., 16 in the U.S. and five in other developed markets. Eight have headquarters in developing markets, including two each from India, Singapore and Brazil and one each from Thailand and Turkey.

"It's becoming a much more diverse group than it used to be," Ms. Santos said, in part because Unilever is using the program to focus on needs in developing markets.

The Foundry is also implementing a two-way mentoring program with startups.

Ms. Santos came to her corporate marketing role late last year from Unilever's home care business, and said results of some Foundry-fostered projects in that business will emerge soon, focused more on product development rather than communications.

Brand and Content Innovation
Duel United Kingdom Runs fully automated photo contests
Goopi United Kingdom Cloud based video ad creation
Kino-mo United Kingdom Futuristic ad display such as bikes that play video
Klip USA Branded content, video and experiential design
Landmrk United Kingdom Enables placement of content into physical locations
Mirriad UK, USA, India, Brazil Makes brand integrations into scalable ad units United Kingdom People earn prizes by sharing data and viewing content
Rattle Technology United Kingdom Augmented reality for brands
Styla Germany Technology enabling e-commerce from content
Those United Kingdom Woodpecker drawing system to bring surfaces to life
Data, Insights and Personalization
The Big Sofa United Kingdom Makes video content easier to search, analyze and use
Blismedia United Kingdom Location data and behavioral insights
Codec United Kingdom Artificial intelligence for content marketing
Mavrck USA Word-of-mouth marketing through micro-influencers
Mesh01 USA Global network of designers and product testers
Pineapple Lounge United Kingdom Research on kids, teens, families
Poshly USA Get products from brands by answering questions
Sampler USA Distributes CPG samples through social and digital media
Unacast Norway World's largest proximity sensor network for ad targeting
WeSeeThrough United Kingdom Uses wearables to help brands see through eyes of consumers
Engaging Millennials
8 TV USA Makes it easy to create shoppable TV-style shows
Crowdly USA Brand advocate marketing platform
Jebbit USA Optimizes brand content through personalization
Naritiv USA Creates vertical content for Snapchat
Playbasis Thailand Engagement and gamification to motivate Gen-Yers
SailPlay USA Marketing automation platform for B2C programs
SoPost United Kingdom Helps brands drive product sampling online
ViralGains USA Video distribution and analytics based on consumer choice
Visionteractive Turkey Digital experiences using custom robotics
Zeotap Germany Helps telecoms unlock data with privacy-by-design tech
Social Impact
Bliive Brazil Network that lets users exchange time and skills
Do Nation United Kingdom Make pledges or start drives to change behavior
Gander United Kingdom Live feed app for local savings
The Girls Lounge USA Girl-focused men-inclusive lounges at trade shows
Inkpact United Kingdom Send personalized, handwritten notes electronically
Neighbourly United Kingdom Connects community projects with donors
Next Billion Singapore Reaches emerging-market consumers through mobile
Pavegen United Kingdom Smart flooring that turns steps into electric power
We Farm United Kingdom Helps farmers globally to share info even without internet
Future of Retail
Constant Commerce United Kingdom Makes print, digital and broadcast content shoppable
Elevaate United Kingdom Platform for trade-funded e-commerce programs
Lisnr USA Activates experiences on mobile devices via smart tones
Loyyal USA Universal loyalty and rewards platform
Proximus U.K., Spain Data analytics company that tracks behavior in store
Shortlyst/Shopalyst India Universal shopping cart across retailers and apps
Skip USA Uses RFID to scan tags as you shop for instant checkout
Streetbees United Kingdom Pays consumer "Smartbees" for collecting in-store info
Streetlike Ltd. United Kingdom Appless reward program through in-store digital signage
Trax Image Recognition Singapore Uses image recognition to track in-store performance

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