CMO 50: Conny Braams

Chief marketing and digital officer, Unilever

Unilever is an advertising juggernaut that has put purpose behind its brands for decades. Conny Braams, who replaced longtime executive Keith Weed as chief marketing and digital officer just before the pandemic hit in January 2020, has kept that tradition strong. Braams, who has been with Unilever since 1990, is responsible for leading its brands through a rapid shift to e-commerce while keeping purpose at the heart of its communications. 

Dove and Ben & Jerry’s have always taken a bold stand on important issues including beauty ideals and racial equity, respectively. Dove pledged its support for the CROWN Act and recently released a startling ad that shows the impact selfie editing can have on young girls, while Ben & Jerry’s maintained vocal and authentic support for the Black Lives Matter movement. 

As a founding member of the Global Alliance for Responsible Media and an adherent to its own responsibility framework, Unilever puts purpose behind its media investments as well. The company participated in the 2020 Facebook and Twitter advertising boycott over hate speech, and has initiated efforts to clean up the programmatic supply chain. 

Unilever has also proven a successful case study of the in-housing model. The CPG giant opened content studio U-Studios on-site in 2016, and it has since grown to 21 offices around the world. In-housing seemed to be a prescient bet, as U-Studios content production rose 40% during the pandemic.

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