Unilever, Havas and Yahoo on tech 'unicorns' taking the best marketing talent

Unilever, Havas and Yahoo on tech 'unicorns' taking the best marketing talent

The big, traditional FMCG brand-owners have, in recent years, lost ground to tech giants such as Google and Facebook in the race to attract the best marketing talent. Will they regain some of their former kudos as the digital landscape settles, or is this trend set to continue?

Each month The Forum questions members of The Marketing Society on a hot topic. For more on membership, visit www.marketingsociety.com.


Jon Goldstone
Global marketing VP – baking, cooking and spreads, Unilever

I strongly believe that we will continue to attract and retain the best talent in the market. Three things work in our favour. First, our aim of doubling the size of our business, while reducing our environmental footprint and increasing our positive social impact, offers individuals the opportunity to be true to their purpose.

Second, our relationships, from dynamic start-ups, via the Unilever Foundry, through to global digital superpowers, give individuals the chance to work with and learn from the best in the industry. And finally, our commitment to brand-led growth provides the brand-building skills that drive rapid personal growth.

According to LinkedIn, Unilever is currently the number-one in-demand FMCG employer, and number-three overall employer of choice, behind Google and Apple. We’ve kept pace with the best new-economy companies by creating an environment where talent can prosper.


Tracey Barber
UK CMO, Havas Worldwide Creative Group

Talented young people are now much more aware of their own worth and whether an employer can offer them the opportunity to fulfil their potential. Tech companies often appeal, as they crowdsource to disrupt industries and employ a ‘get it done’ philosophy.

So can traditional businesses offer talented young marketers a way of working that is equally aspirational? In a world where the requirement for business that is meaningful and impactful is only going to grow, the answer should be yes. But it is down to the brands to make themselves the places in which talented people want to work.

We’re in the infant stages of our industry being turned upside-down, so we’ll need new talent that’s multi-skilled and has a flexible approach. But to do that we’ll need to give them the room to become influential new figures, even in old organisations.


David Clayton-Smith
Partner, Andrum Consulting

Blue-chip training for graduates used to be the envy of my peers but we were in an era of longer stays in companies, progressive and secure career progressions, and, despite high levels of skills and talent, we acknowledged the hierarchy and associated power that existed and we aspired to.

The current graduate population is equally ambitious, but seeking greater levels of trust, empowerment and corporate informality. There may also be less attraction in consumption per se, with the tech giants being part of a service-and-experience market that seems more aligned with younger values.

The blue-chips are not blind, but must find a new style of leadership, power distribution and motivation of their talent. Shorter stays in companies indicate not a lack of commitment, but a diminished interest in the ‘top floor’ and a greater desire to be involved in what is perceived to be a worthwhile purpose.


Robert Bridge
VP of international editorial and marketing,

Digital currently makes up about 50% of marketing spend, and consequently we are seeing an evolution in the skill set of marketers. Having solid tech experience and a good understanding of the industry can therefore give marketers a real career advantage.

While the attraction of working for fast-paced, cutting-edge tech firms is enormous, I would say that competition for jobs is fierce across the board.

All leading brands – digital or otherwise – now have significant digital footprints in order that they may target consumers via a multitude of platforms.

There is tremendous value in having broad marketing experience, and the perfect background is arguably a mixture of tech and FMCG. There aren’t many marketers with that combination of experience, so those that have it are highly sought-after.

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