Runner-up: Giant Shows Surprising Creativity and Confidence in New Media

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Quarterly revenue rose 1.2% in the Americas to $4.9 billion.
2006 operating profit was up 26.7% to $3.1 billion.
Creativity is a tangible contributor. The same Unilever brands that have been winning Cannes Lions -- Dove and Axe -- also have been driving global growth for the giant marketer. Those brands have led a personal-care business that's been among the company's strongest and has begun gaining share on Procter & Gamble Co. in the past year.

Focusing on the brands and marketing works. Following a 2005 reorganization, Unilever brand directors report to 14 people as opposed to 150, improving their odds of getting things done. "It meant we put advertising in the hands of specialist, brand-literate leaders," says Chief Marketing Officer Simon Clift. "That's why these brands that weren't the Doves or the Rexonas or the Axes are suddenly in the running" for creative awards.
WINNER: Nintendo
  1. Apple
  2. Nike
  3. Al Gore
  4. Geico
  5. Unilever

Make new media mainstream. Many package-goods marketers have viewed new media through the lens of "new media," but that's the wrong approach, because it tends to segment them off to the side rather than incorporating them into broader plans, says Babs Rangaiah, senior director-media and entertainment for Unilever. "The way these [alternative] campaigns work well is as part of a broader program ... even the centerpiece of it."

Shopper marketing may not be glamorous, but it can work. Unilever's restructuring also consolidated its efforts in sales and trade marketing so that it operates as a single company. As such, Unilever has emerged from being well down retailer rankings of top marketers into the top five in one recent ranking by Deloitte Consulting. Unilever's efforts to spur a makeover of retailer Ahold's health and beauty merchandising also earned an "Innovator of the Year" award from the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

Some losing battles may not be worth fighting anymore. Unilever is looking at selling its North American detergent business. To address a product-development effort some see lagging, Unilever hired a chief technology officer, Neal Matheson, from rival Johnson & Johnson with prior background at P&G.
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