Reinventing the Chief Marketing Officer: An Interview with Unilever CMO Keith Weed

A marketing revolution is under way and nowhere is that more visible than in the CMO’s transforming role. Unilever CMO Keith Weed embodies this new order as an architect and leader of the firm’s plan to double revenue while halving its environmental impact. In this edited interview, Weed describes a new breed of marketing organization, and the CMO’s increasingly strategic role.

You have a very unusual job description for a CMO – you oversee marketing and communications and sustainable business. What’s the rationale for that?

The construct came from our CEO Paul Polman. When Paul arrived at Unilever in 2009, I was running the global laundry and home care business and also the water business around the world. And one of the big drives there for me was to find more sustainable solutions, particularly to clothes washing. It’s the greatest use of domestic water and we have a big business in emerging markets where people have to work hard to fetch water or pay a lot for it. So, I was already quite focused on sustainability issues.

Questions on Windfalls, Identity Theft, Groceries, and Credit Cards

What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to five word summaries. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question.
1. Credit cards and miles
2. Buy it for life: backpack
3. Lending Club?
4. Unexpected $ 5,000 windfall
5. Completed journals and identity theft
6. 2-for-$ 3 deals and other bargains
7. Pitching ideas to national newspapers
8. Buying a rental property
9. Pizza delivery tipping
10. Grocery store pricing trickery
11. Different levels of frugality
12. No-contract data plans
13. Dry cleaning
14. Identity theft worries
15. Total value of Amazon Prime

A couple of weeks ago, my mother-in-law put on a master class in how to host a large group of people at one’s house. She managed to make 24 houseguests over the course of four days feel comfortable and welcome, provided great meals for everyone, and made sure everyone had an excellent time.

How did she do it? Planning. Lots of planning.

Why Citizens Bank’s Brand Simplification Goes Deeper

Last fall, Citizens Financial Group unveiled its “Bank Better” initiative, designed to simplify and make more personal the banking experience for its customers. The initiative includes a new approach to overdrafts –- no overdraft fee for transactions of $ 5 or less, as well as other updates to bank processes that similarly simplify interactions and transactions.
Forbes – Leadership

How to Be a Really Stupid Leader

What makes a leader stupid? Most believe it is a combination of a number of unattractive and unproductive behaviors that are incorporated into their style that makes them unsuccessful, along with a refusal to change. A stupid leader is a committed self-serving leader. They see every situation and activity from their own vantage point and […]
Linked 2 Leadership

How To Be Efficient With Organizational Change

When I was a kid, I was never satisfied with the performance of my Fisher-Price walkie-talkies. In my early teens, I finally made the case to my parents that I needed something more powerful.

AA batteries

I saved up and purchased two Radio Shack TRC–219 citizens band walkie-talkies. Five full watts of transmitting power meant I could theoretically reach people on the other side of town.

It also resulted in my constant search for 10 AA batteries (yes, 10) that each radio needed to run. I was constantly digging around for batteries in the junk drawer in my parents’ house.

Leadership Caffeine—In Praise of Mistakes Made for the Right Reasons

Show me a mistake-free leader, and I’ll show you someone hiding from the real issues confronting the business: people and strategy.


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Regarding the colon: Stop abusing this handy punctuation mark

The colon is a versatile punctuation mark. Here are its three primary functions, followed by a few other uses:

1. Definition or expansion

“But here’s the interesting thing: He hadn’t ever been there before.”

Note the capitalization of the first word after the colon. All usage guides agree that in a sentence like “I want you to tell me one thing: the truth,” the first word should be lowercase because it begins a phrase, not a complete sentence.

But handbooks are divided over whether to capitalize complete sentences.