Project Sunlight: Unilever’s Call To Action For Sustainable Living

21 11 2013

Unilever has launched  a worldwide new initiative to motivate millions of people to adopt more sustainable lifestyles.  Launched yesterday on Universal Children’s Day in Brazil, India, Indonesia, the UK and the US, Project Sunlight aims to make sustainable living desirable and achievable by inspiring people, and in particular parents, to join what Unilever sees as a growing community of people who want to make the world a better place for children and future generations.

Project Sunlight was launched with the four-minute film embedded here and created by DAVID Latin America and Ogilvy & Mather London at dawn on November 20th in Indonesia and then follow the sun to India, the UK, Brazil and the US. Additional information can be found at an online hub – www.projectsunlight.com – which brings together the social mission stories of Unilever’s brands across the world, and invites consumers to get involved in doing small things that help their own families, others around the world and the planet.

To mark the launch of Project Sunlight on Universal Children’s Day, Unilever will be helping 2 million children through its ongoing partnerships, providing school meals through the World Food Programme; supporting Save the Children to provide clean, safe drinking water; and improved hygiene through UNICEF.

Ogilvy & Mather Chairman and CEO Miles Young, explains: “Unilever asked us to find a new way to talk about sustainability that would make the benefits real for ordinary people. Project Sunlight is founded on the principle that even small actions can make a big difference and that together, we can create a brighter future.  We are honored to be a part of such a positive and significant movement for the good of our client and our communities.”  Famed film director Erroll Morris directed “Why bring a child into this world?” including moving interviews with expectant parents from around the world.

The project draws on the legacy of Unilever’s founder Lord Leverhulme, who believed that he could change the world with a brand of soap he called Sunlight.

Kudos to Unilever, Ogilvy, DAVID and everyone involved in this important initiative that hits at the heart of the matter: if we can’t work to improve living conditions on our precious planet, how dare you bring a child into this world.

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WFA: Marketers Lag Consumers On Importance Of Responsible Brands

9 03 2013

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According to new research released this week by the World Federation of Advertisers, some 83% of marketers believe brands should have a “purpose”, but many shoppers have moved ahead of the industry in this area.  Some 56% of industry insiders thought consumers would prefer brands that supported “good causes at the same time as making money”, but Edelman’s consumer research pegged the actual total at 76%.

These figures stood at 40% and 47% respectively with regard to how many people bought caused-backing products at least once a month.

More broadly, only 38% of marketers had witnessed “consumer scepticism” when trying to position their products around a “purpose”, with shoppers in Europe, somewhat surprisingly, the least cynical.

The trade body polled 149 marketers from 58 firms controlling $70bn in adspend. It then compared the results with a global poll of 8,000 shoppers conducted by Edelman, the PR network.  The study was presented at the WFA’s Global Marketer Week, and features insights from organisations like Anheuser-Busch Inbev, the brewer, and Johnson & Johnson, the healthcare giant.

Fully 80% of the professionals polled agreed chief executives should help and be involved in shaping a purpose, a reading which stood at 74% for chief marketing officers, 64% for corporate communications and 53% for all staff.

While 49% of this panel agreed their brands had a purpose, only 38% felt it was communicated well. More positively, a 93% majority said the impact of purpose on reputation could be measured, as did 91% for consumer engagement.

Upon being asked to name the company which has best embraced purpose, Unilever, the FMCG firm, led the charts on 23%, buoyed by its goal to double sales and halve its environmental footprint by 2020.

Procter & Gamble, a rival to Unilever, took second on 15%, and has embraced the corporate mantra of “touching and improving” consumers. Soft drinks titan Coca-Cola was third on 14%.





Climate Counts: 15 Companies “Soaring” With Climate and Energy Strategy

8 12 2012

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In its 6th annual report, Climate Counts (CC) has released it scorecard of 145 companies’ performance of publicly available information regarding their efforts to reduce green house emissions, support the need for a comprehensive climate policy and report its progress.  15 of those companies have received a score of “soaring” by CC for their leadership and innovation in reducing their impact on the environment.

Unilever leads the pack with an amazing score of 91 (out of 100).  Here are the rest of the “soaring” companies:

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In the report, Mike Bellamente, Director of the non-profit Climate Counts, said, “Business leaders are making remarkably innovative progress to minimize waste, employ renewable energy, and design products with a lower carbon impact – all while turning a profit and growing their business. As the economy shows limited signs of improvement, top performers on our scorecard are demonstrating that economic prosperity and environmental sustainability can be achieved simultaneously. We would call that a win-win if it weren’t for the great distance we still have to go in squaring up human consumption with the true carrying capacity of our planet.”

However, some companies are “stuck” according to the CC report.  Among the least improved companies are some household brand names that people should re-consider their patronage based on their lack of progress in assessing and responding to their impact on the environment.  The fast food sector  is particularly guilty of ignoring its impact on climate change as McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s all squarely in the bottom six companies that rank as least improved over the six years of the Climate Counts reports.

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Cheers to the “soaring” companies and jeers to those that are “stuck”. according to Climate Counts.

Read the Climate Counts Report here.





Unilever: Partnership to help African Hand Washing Initiative

30 10 2012

Unilever and the Earth Institute have announced a new initiative to bring hand washing with soap – a lifesaving habit – to the Millennium Villages, a project that works with nearly 500,000 people in rural villages, across 10 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. 

”The big issues the world is facing require new approaches, new business models and new partnerships. Responsible businesses must take a more active leadership role.” said Paul Polman, Unilever CEO, “The memo of understanding with the Earth Institute partnering Lifebuoy with the Millennium Villages Project is one such example where working together will enhance our expertise of addressing hygiene in deep rural Africa and enable us to develop more effective solutions to reduce child mortality.”

The partnership supports Unilever’s goal to deliver on one of its commitment under its Sustainable Living Plan – to help more than one billion people take action to improve their health and well-being. Over the past two years, Unilever has successfully changed the hand washing behaviour of 50 million people in Africa and South-Asia, through its leading soap brand Lifebuoy and partnerships with Population Services International (PSI) and UNICEF established through the Unilever Foundation.

“It is unacceptable that two million children die every year from infectious diseases when we have easy and cheap lifesaving solutions, such as hand washing with soap, readily available. Innovative partnerships between governments, civil society and business have a critical role to play in promoting better hygiene practices and in tackling the world’s deadliest diseases.” said Polman.

Millions around the world are asked to pledge on www.facebook.com/lifebuoy. With every pledge, Lifebuoy and its partners will help more children receive hygiene education through their dedicated handwashing behavior change programs.

In a statement, Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University said: “Diarrhoea and pneumonia are the two leading causes of under-5 deaths, accounting for around 30% of children’s deaths globally – more than two million lives lost each year. More than 80% of these deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Addressing these challenges through improved hygiene is a vital and effective step towards saving lives and achieving the global Millennium Development Goal to reduce the child mortality rate by two-thirds by 2015.”

Consistent evidence shows that hand washing with soap at critical times – before eating or preparing food and after using the toilet – can reduce diarrhoeal risk by 45%  and acute respiratory infections such as pneumonia, by 23%.  Studies also reveal that primary school absenteeism due to diarrhoea and respiratory infections dropped between 20% and 50% as a result of better hand washing practices .

“We are looking forward to working with Unilever to ensure that straightforward solutions like hand washing reach the people that need them the most,” said Sachs who leads the Millennium Villages Project.  “The poor need solutions that are affordable, products that are highly effective, and information that is practical and accessible.  The benefits can be enormous.”

The partnership will be focusing on villages in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda, and aims to: decrease incidence in diarrhoeal diseases, promote gender equality, increase school attendance, enhance productivity and well-being for all community members. The partnership will also focus on governments. Governments should integrate hand washing with soap into national health and education policy frameworks. Governments and aid donors should ensure adequate finance for hygiene facilities and water availabilities. Business must act too, ensuring their products are even more affordable, and varied so that handwashing with soap is done everywhere and by all. Public-private partnerships have role to play and can help governments harness the power of business for the benefit of their population’s health.

Looking to the UN’s post-2015 agenda, Polman said, “It will be important to ensure that hygiene takes its place alongside targets on water and sanitation. This partnership with Millennium Villages Project will provide further evidence to demonstrate to policymakers how hygiene public policy can be improved, and help bring to an end the scandal of children dying from preventable diseases.





Unilever’s Bold Move: Launches Brave New Foundation.

1 02 2012

Unilever has announced the launch of The Unilever Foundation, dedicated to improving the quality of life through the provision of hygiene, sanitation, access to clean drinking water, basic nutrition, and enhancing self-esteem.

To help achieve the Foundation’s mission, Unilever has formed partnerships with five leading global organizations that are committed to creating sustainable change worldwide: Oxfam, PSI, Save the Children, UNICEF and the World Food Programme.

The Unilever Foundation is a key action that Unilever is taking to help achieve its goal of helping more than one billion people improve their health and well-being, and in turn, create a sustainable future.

“We live in a rapidly changing world. One where populations are growing, water is becoming increasingly scarce, and where food security is a growing issue. Unilever is committed to addressing the unmet social needs that our business can play a unique role in helping to solve. This is especially true in developing and emerging markets where we have deep roots,” said Keith Weed, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at Unilever.

“We aim to double the size of our business while reducing our environmental impact and deliver increased social value. Together with our partners, we will deliver life-saving solutions as we work toward achieving these ambitious goals,” he added.

The challenges of the 21st century are increasingly complex:

  • Over 1 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water.
  • More than 3.5 million children under 5 die annually from diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections.
  • One child dies every four seconds from preventable and treatable diseases.
  • 2.6 billion people lack access to improved sanitation.
  • An estimated 925 million people suffer from chronic hunger.

“Two billion times a day, somebody, somewhere, uses a Unilever brand. Our global reach and scale, coupled with a deep understanding of what triggers consumer behaviours that can lead to a sustainable future, uniquely enable us to drive long-term scalable and systemic change,” added Weed.

The Unilever Foundation will be working with its Global partners on a number of life-saving initiatives:

  • The Unilever Foundation’s partnership with Oxfam will improve lives around the world through programmes designed to empower individuals and deliver good nutrition and clean, safe drinking water.  According to Barbara Stocking, Oxfam Chief Executive, “Unilever and Oxfam have been working together across the world for quite a number of years so we are pleased to be working with Unilever with the new Foundation as it is set up. The first way that we are going to work together is in the UK, providing food parcels to the very poorest people and helping them move from surviving to thriving. We are looking forward to extending that worldwide, focusing on two pillars core to Oxfam’s work on tackling poverty and inequality – the rights of women and access to clean drinking water.”
  • In supporting PSI, the Unilever Foundation is making a tangible contribution to improving the health of children and families through delivering behavioural change interventions focused on hand washing, clean drinking water and sanitation. “The launch of the Unilever Foundation represents the best of what is possible in Davos,” said Karl Hofmann, President and CEO of PSI. “By pooling ideas and resources, private companies and health organizations can improve the health of millions of children and families worldwide.  PSI is excited to be working with Unilever, a company that recognizes – and values – the economic impact of good health.”
  • The Unilever Foundation is working with Save the Children to save and improve the lives of children around the world. This will involve improving access to health workers and life-saving vaccines, and ensuring more children and mothers are reached with high-impact health and nutrition programmes. The partnership will also provide a platform to catalyse a global movement and generate the public and political will for a global breakthrough on child survival. Jasmine Whitbread, Chief Executive of Save the Children International, said “Save the Children is proud to be selected as a partner for the Unilever Foundation. This partnership will help us to deliver transformational change to millions of children’s lives around the world through our EVERY ONE campaign. Each year 7.6 million children die needlessly of preventable illnesses. The support from Unilever will bring us a step closer to ensuring that a health worker is within reach of every child, life-saving vaccines are available for all, and children have enough food to grow up healthy. Combining our global reach and joint mbition – we can give children the chance to fulfil their potential.”
  • The Unilever Foundation and UNICEF are partnering to improve sanitation in developing countries through UNICEF’s Community Approaches to Total Sanitation (‘CATS’) initiative, a behaviour change program that promotes good hygiene practices, helps create demand for access to toilets, and raises awareness of the sanitation crisis. “By investing with communities in sanitation, this  partnership is helping us break one of the last taboos in public health – open defecation – and demonstrating real leadership for the private sector,” said Anthony Lake, UNICEF’s Executive Director. “Improved sanitation could prevent the deaths of over one million children each year so these investments have enormous potential for the future health and strength of their societies.”
  • The Unilever Foundation is also partnering with the World Food Programme (WFP) in Project Laser Beam, a public-private partnership that aims to create a scalable and sustainable model to improve nutrition, health, and livelihoods in Bangladesh and Indonesia. “With millions of children around the world suffering from malnutrition, there has never been a better time to take action on this truly solvable problem,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran. “Project Laser Beam is investing in the next generation by ensuring that our children grow up healthy and strong. The knowledge and expertise of partners like the Unilever Foundation help make this goal a reality.”

Additionally, the Unilever Foundation is also working with other organizations worldwide by providing a combination of direct funding, expertise, products and employee support that help to help address country-specific needs primarily aligned with the Foundation’s mission.