Q & A
SHE’S THE QUEEN
Media—and she’s seriously
Laura Klauberg, Uni-
lever’s powerful senior vice
president of global media,
has been a major driver in
many of the company’s
most successful digital ini-
tiatives, from “In the Motherhood” for Suave, to “The AXE Effect”
for AXE deodorant, to the Cannes Lions Grand Prix–winning
“Campaign for Real Beauty” for Dove.
Laura Klauberg, senior vice presi-
dent of global media at Unilever
Klauberg is the first woman, and first American, to head media for
Unilever’s global marketing operations, where she personally controls
the world’s second largest media budget—a full $4.7 billion a year.
Which means her opinion matters—a lot.
It was Klauberg, after all, who recently sparked heartburn
throughout the U.S. television industry when she appeared to ques-
tion the wisdom of allocating TV ad budgets months in advance, dur-
ing the so-called “upfront” season, when media buyers make
commitments to secure advertising time in the following fall’s TV
schedule—arguing that a rapidly changing media market demands
more nimble maneuvering.
In Klauberg’s view, d igital media is fundamentally transforming
the way both brands and consumers use media. Simply “going digi-
tal” means very little. To truly capitalize on the power of on-demand
experience requires what she calls a “big brand idea” driven by con-
Rick Mathieson: Unilever is one of the world’s largest and most
important advertisers—especially in television. How is that starting to
Laura Klauberg: Historically if you looked at the way we spent
our communication dollars, even as recently as five years ago, you
would see a pretty traditional-looking mix, which was largely televi-
sion driven. And we have also always been a pretty significant spender
in print, and in magazines specifically. Those two mediums used to
constitute 90 percent of our overall communication mix.
But if you look at it today, it’s significantly changed. TV still
dominates our spend, but we’ve dramatically diversified our com-
munication mix, where print still is important, television’s still
important, but the whole digital space is growing significantly and
more than doubles every year in terms of the total dollars that we’re
THE ON-DEMAND BRAND
RM: What have you learned so far as you have started to invest
more heavily in digital?
LK: The first lesson—and this lesson I think pertains to any
medium—is to stress the brand idea. If you have a big brand idea,
whether you’re talking about television, or you’re talking about
print, or you’re talking about digital, it makes a significant differ-
ence. Particularly in the digital space because it provides an oppor-
tunity to engage consumers in unprecedented ways—in ways that
just running a thirty-second television ad or a static print ad didn’t in
But if it doesn’t start at the core with a really engaging brand idea,
no one’s going to bother to interact with or engage with you.
RM: Obviously some of the most innovative work Unilever’s done
has been for the Dove brand, with the “Campaign for Real Beauty.”
Why, even after all these years, has this multiplatform initiative been
so powerful in the marketplace?
LK: It goes back to the essence of what Dove is about; it’s about
redefining beauty stereotypes.
What we’ve learned on a global basis is that women feel passionate
about that subject. And any time you find a group of consumers that
feels passionate about something, they want to speak out on it.
I think that whole brand platform has really lent itself to the digi-
tal space because we’ve afforded women an opportunity—whether it’s
posting a message on a message board or it’s [asking consumers to cre-
ate] a Dove commercial, as in the case of Dove Cream Oil, where we
got far more entries than we had ever anticipated.
When women feel strongly about something, and you give them a
platform to speak out, or to create something, or to engage with one
another, they’ll jump on it. That’s why they’ll send a video to all their
friends. They’ll post the Evolution video on their Facebook page or
their MySpace profile and write on the Dove message board on our