So I hope you read and enjoyed my blog on the 2016 European UFLP Connect (check it out here). That was purely my take on the biggest UFLP event of the year, where 160 grads from over 17 countries gathered at the Weena head office in Rotterdam. Read more “Grad Highlights on European UFLP Biggest Event of the Year!”
This has to be one of the best experiences I have had so far on the UFLP; it was a UFLP connect event in Unilever’s Rotterdam head office that involved 160 graduates across all multi-country organisations in Europe. Read more “What happened when 160 European UFLPs gathered in Rotterdam: Rosie Smith, R&D UFLP”
Hello, I am Tara and I am on a Business and Technology Management (BTM) Industrial Placement. Doing a degree in Sustainable Development and Politics at the University of Edinburgh you may be wondering how I ended up in Business and IT function. Well truthfully, it was not solely the function that attracted me to the scheme; it was also my pure fascination and appreciation for the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan that drew me in. That being said, I will leave my personal story for a later date because as I am based in Port Sunlight, the birthplace of Unilever, I feel it is only appropriate to dedicate my inaugural post to our founder, Lord Lever-Hulme himself.
William Lever, the son of a humble grocer, was a visionary and progressivist whose legacy not only radiates through Unilever today, but can be seen throughout corporate and union strategies worldwide. From an economic perspective, his initial success was born out of Sunlight Soap – the first ever individually wrapped soap bars. Who knew, a commodity we take for granted today was considered so revolutionary just over a century ago? However, although his economic legacy rests in a company whose revenues topped £48 billion last year; what makes me (and many others) proud to be a Unilever employee is the social legacy he leaves behind.
After Sunlight soap took off, and his factory in Warrington was running at full capacity, Lever began looking for a new premises. The plot of land he chose was ideal: near a potential source of labour in neighbouring Birkenhead, with road, rail and water access, and located just off the banks of the Mersey River. Port Sunlight had found its home. However, Port Sunlight was never to be just a factory. Being a great believer in the idea that healthy labourers were more productive he pioneered the concept of employee welfare. Within a couple of years he had built an entire village of 900 homes to house employees from across his business. At a time of vast industrial revolution, where disparities and poverty were vast, Port Sunlight was considered utopian in comparison to average living standards. With a hospital, fire station, manicured gardens, leisure facilities, and schools, workers never needed to leave. In their village, where they both lived and worked, they were guaranteed a decent standard of living and better quality of life.
The village and original factory site remain almost identical to the time of their construction. Port Sunlight has been declared a Conservation Area since 1978 and has strict upkeep regulations in order to retain the character of the village. Work ethic within Unilever also remains central to Lever’s vision with a high emphasis on employee wellbeing and welfare. Simply walking through the village is a living reminder of Lever’s efforts to build the company we know and love today. If anything it makes me proud to work for a company who is founded on its progressivist thinking whilst staying true to its historical legacy. And to be reminded of that every morning is a pure joy.
If Lord Lever were to enter 21st century Port Sunlight, aside from the various mod-cons, I like to think he would be walking into an office not much different than the one he created in the late 1800s. Now that is a legacy to be proud of.
Hi everyone, I’m Tom and I am currently doing a summer placement in BTM.
It was only on my induction day that I found out just how broad the roles within BTM actually were. I was going to be working in Consumer IT, the worry about my ineptitude at coding set in! What had I done? I haven’t done IT since GCSE!
My first day however quickly alleviated my fears with my line manager explaining what the role of IT within BTM actually is. Consumer IT requires you to be a problem solver, partnering with brands globally to manage projects and develop solutions to allow the business to grow in a changing marketplace (not the coding and software development I had feared!!!).
My role is within the global sustainability and traceability team under the wide reaching umbrella of Consumer IT. Partnering with technology providers like Vodafone to deliver IT innovation to the business and the brands.
Networking was one of the most important tasks of my first weeks, meeting the team and other employees from across from the business helped me quickly learn about the company’s culture. The friendly ‘Unilever people’ speed the settling in process but it was the wave of immediate responsibility that makes you feel part of the business. One of the truly unique aspects of working within BTM is how cross functional your work is. Project management is a huge part of your role as you deliver projects for all areas of the business whether it be the digital team developing websites, or traceability projects for supply chain and brands. You are given huge exposure to all areas of the business.
I thought I’d talk about one of my projects at this point, the one I have chosen is not the one I spend the most time on, but it is one that I feel completely sums up Unilever as a business and has allowed me to truly live the USLP. This was a key project in my first couple of weeks and was my first experience of responsibility. The project is working with foodbanks in the UK partnering with external strategic business partners to bring together a technology platform of relationship management tools to enable them to meet the growing demand. As well as providing them with business training, organising volunteering events and managing the process.
This is not the project I am working on that is developing business radical growth through revolutionary IT innovation like my other projects. This for me is the beauty of Unilever not only are you encouraged to think differently in order to innovate business growth but you are also provided with projects and time to drive positive social change. The sustainability team is now an increasing driver of business growth, the continued acceleration towards truly sustainable business is an exciting area to be part of. Unilever remains at the forefront of sustainable business practice amongst FMCG’s and being part of this area has allowed me to see where it is going.
The First 6 weeks have gone fast! Working on challenging projects has allowed me to gain valuable experience in the corporate environment and gain that all important commercial awareness. From just a few months ago as a Geography student, talking about the theories of sustainability and sustainable development; to having the opportunity to be involved in the application of these theories has been unbelievably exciting and rewarding in equal measure!
Now into my final few weeks the time is upon me to start the handover process of my projects and beginning the self-evaluation process for which special time with my manager is set aside. What I wanted from my placement at Unilever was to develop my skills as well as gaining an understanding of the corporate world and Unilever more specifically. I have had the privilege of working with VP’s across the business and this exposure to senior managers has been a steep learning curve but one I feel has driven a great deal of personal development. Being part of a team who is driving sustainable business development so quickly and positively has been a sense of real personal enjoyment and has justified everyday my decision to work at Unilever.
Hi I’m Steven, and I’m currently on my first rotation on the Business and Technology Management (BTM) UFLP. I joined Unilever in September 2014 after graduating from Queen’s University Belfast with a degree in Business Management. This is actually my second stint with Unilever, having previously completed an Industrial Placement year during my degree. I was attracted to Unilever and BTM as I always had an interest in technology, and was keen to discover how it was being utilised to drive the business forward.
I spent my placement year working in the picturesque village of Port Sunlight, on the Wirral. This is the historic site where Lever Brothers began manufacturing Sunlight soap all those years ago. Looking back it was a great location to start my career with Unilever, as I was immersed in the history of the company and I could see first-hand how much the brothers had valued employee welfare, through the creation of the village itself.
In terms of my role there, I was one of the IT Business Partnering and Innovation leads for the Supply Chain function, more specifically I partnered the Global Customer Service Excellence team. I was responsible for developing tools that enabled our packaging teams to produce more optimised designs; in turn this helped to increase our presence on shelf in stores across the world. This is vital for attracting shopper attention and securing sales. I was working as part of a great internal team but I also had external interactions with international suppliers, and when English isn’t their first language clear communication becomes even more important. My time in PSL also gave me the opportunity to do something completely different from my day to day work, leading a small team to produce a promotional video for the entire Supply Chain IT team, highlighting all of the things we had achieved during the year.
The placement was challenging but I had a supportive team around me and great manager who continued to stretch me, which was extremely valuable from a development perspective. Needless to say I really enjoyed my time there, and I was delighted to get an offer to come back to Unilever on the UFLP after I graduated.
Fast forward to the present day and I’m writing this blog from my current office, Unilever’s global headquarters on Victoria Embankment in London (100VE). Looking out one window I can see The Shard, Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf; turn my attention in the other direction and I’m greeted by the sights of Big Ben and the London Eye. Moral of the story, it’s a really cool office to be based in!
I’m just over half way through my first rotation, and once again I have found myself in an IT Business Partnering and Innovation role. However, this time I am working with our Consumer Market Insights (CMI) team. These are the people who work alongside our category brand teams, to provide actionable insights based on the vast array of research we conduct and have access to. The culture in London is very different to Port Sunlight, as is the nature of the team I’m partnering. Everything seems to happen a lot faster, and this emphasises the innovation aspect of my role, although I still need to maintain the close relationships with my key stakeholders. Partnering in this way allows me to understand their requirements and help them leverage innovative technology, enabling us to connect with consumers in a more powerful way to gain better insights.
My wider IT team in London have been great welcoming me from day one, and the hot-desking policy we operate means you get to sit beside different people each day. I’m pleased to say that there are quite a few previous graduates in this space, including my current manager who started the BTM UFLP just 5 years ago! This is a real motivator for me as it highlights how quickly you can progress within the organisation.
As for my future, I expect to do 3 or 4 more rotations on the scheme, one of which will hopefully be out of the BTM function. This will be a great chance for me to experience another part of the business, potentially in something like marketing or even revisiting my connections with supply chain. My next BTM role will be confirmed in the coming weeks, so I’m excited to find out where I’ll be going and what I’ll be doing! Check back to the blog in another few months to find out for yourself!
I started on the Business Technology Management (BTM) stream of the Unilever Future Leader’s programme (UFLP) in September 2013. Having finished at the University of Bristol with a Biology degree in 2012, I became aware of BTM while doing an internship at an Innovation consultancy the summer after I finished University. The UFLP seemed like a fantastic learning experience within a company that was really highly regarded, while technology was an area I felt would be growing rapidly in importance within Unilever, and one that would be driving the business forward moving into the future. I’m a living, breathing example that it doesn’t require a technical background or computer science degree to be successful in applying to the BTM. A keen interest in what technology can do for the business is far more important!
BTM is split into a series of 6 month placements, the first of which I spent in 100 Victoria Embankment, Blackfriars, London working in the Sustainable Business Team. The Sustainable Business team is responsible for driving the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan (USLP), which is a fundamental part of Unilever’s compass ambition to double the size of the business while halving the environmental footprint by 2020. Spending time in the team responsible for something so integral to the business gave me some really eye opening experiences and was a great place to start. One specific responsibility was to help in the creation of an online hub called the Sustainable Living Lab for Unilever employee’s across the business. The aim of which was to inform and offer a space for collaboration around Sustainable business. The lab went live in November 2013, and was formally launched at the Change Leaders conference (a conference for the top 400 Unilever members globally). Being responsible for the launch was daunting and exciting at the same time, but ultimately turned out to be a great success.
After finishing in the Sustainable Business team in March, I moved up to Liverpool and am currently based out of Port Sunlight working in the Global Network Services team. The Networks team is responsible for making sure that the data network for all of Unilever’s locations is robust and working. Consequences for problems with the Network can be extremely damaging to the business, as a problem with the network that stops production in a factory can cost a lot over a short period of time. This opportunity has given me a completely different perspective on technology in the business, and I’ve learnt a huge amount during my time here. Next up I’m staying in the Port Sunlight office, but moving into the Chief Technology Office, which is responsible for the long term technology strategy for Unilever. As you can see, one major strength of the BTM scheme is the amount of variation it’s possible to see over the course of the placements. In 18 months I will have seen a really broad scope of the different ways that technology supports Unilever as a whole.
The scheme so far has been challenging and rewarding, with fantastic learning opportunities throughout – highly recommended!
Welcome to our 2014/2015 Industrial Placement Business & Technology Management students! Here they share with you their profiles, what attracted them to Unilever and top tips for future applicants:
Name: Caroline Godson
University: University of Birmingham
Course: Business Management with Year in Industry
Role title: Social Activation Analyst
What attracted you to Unilever?
Unilever provides so many opportunities to build networks and skills within a global business environment and the breadth of experience they offer in the space of 12 months is amazing. Their organisational culture and values were also greatly attractive to me and I really enjoy working within a team of motivated individuals in a flexible and agile way.
Top tips for future applicants?
Be proactive and apply early – the earlier you apply the earlier you could secure yourself a job and relax! During the application process ensure to stay up to date with Unilever’s current news, what projects they’re focusing on, and try to integrate this information into your answers – particularly on the telephone interview. Prepare in detail for interviews/assessment centre with competency based question examples, knowledge of Unilever and remember to be confident! The application process is mostly about the company finding out about the kind of person you are, so be yourself and be sure to listen to others – it’s important to take other people’s views into account and not try to lead the entire time.
Name: Ioanna Yiallourides
University: University of Bath
Course: Politics with Economics
Function: Business and Technology Management
Role Title: Digital Planner, Digital Marketing Services Europe
What attracted you to Unilever?
Its unique approach to doing business, its diversity of accounts and opportunities and its global scale.
Any top tips for future applicants?
Be yourself throughout the process and try to enjoy it.
Name: James Tinson
University: University of Reading
Course: Business and Management
What attracted you to Unilever?
I had been looking at the reviews on Ratemyplacement.co.uk and similar sites and Unilever was highly rated by placement students, and the opportunity to work with some of the world’s biggest brands of course!
Any top tips for future applicants?
When it comes to the selection day, be yourself! It’s better to feel comfortable than to be on edge and over thinking your actions.
We all know that job hunting as a graduate isn’t easy. The process is constantly growing in length with extensive application forms, multiple psychometric tests, telephone interviews and of course, extremely demanding selection boards. The process is most definitely challenging and on top of other deadlines that you may be facing (exams, coursework deadlines etc.) it can be a stressful time. As a recent graduate who started at Unilever in 2013 I remember clearly the pressure of job-hunting and the challenges it created. I thought therefore it would be helpful to offer my top ten tips for graduate job-hunters. Some are specific to Unilever and some are slightly more general. These are by no means the holy grail of securing a graduate job but hopefully for those who are feeling the strain they may help;
1. Know yourself
It sounds so simple but isn’t always something that people remember to consider. Joanne Lucy (Capability Director, Enterprise Technical Solutions at Unilever) who is regularly involved in Selection Boards highlighted the importance of candidates understanding and being able to articulate their own Unique Selling Point (USP). Know what makes you stand out from other candidates and don’t be afraid to share this. Consider your strengths but also be able to identify any areas where you would like to improve. Most importantly, be yourself. It’s easy to recognise someone who is saying what they think recruiters want to hear so honesty really is the best policy.
2. Avoid generalisations
You don’t have to be a ‘certain person’ to fit a particular role. My degree was in Sport Management and my work background was mainly focused around Communications and Marketing but I am currently a HR Management Trainee. Unilever do not look for specific backgrounds but rather where the individual wants to be in the future. Don’t be deterred if you have studied something that isn’t naturally connected to the role you’re interested in. As long as you can justify your interest and demonstrate potential you have a chance.
3. Preparation is key
Preparation is important for every stage of the recruitment process and should never be underestimated. Make sure you’ve done your research on Unilever as a company, our history and our culture. Keep up to date with news on your chosen function and be able to justify your opinions. Understand the function that you have applied for and how it applies to other areas of the business. Ask yourself why you are interested in this area and what can you bring to the role and to the company. It’s also worth making sure that you have an awareness of the external market – how are Unilever performing against our competitors? How are we navigating the challenges faced? Sources such as The Economist can help with this. Finally, ensure that you have a good grasp of Unilever’s Standards of Leadership as these are a critical part of the selection process.
4. Be specific – use examples
Think carefully about the examples that you can use to back up the skills/strengths that you have. Interviewers want to hear about specific challenges/experiences that you have had and how you reacted in this situation. Try to structure your answers using the STAR technique;
S – Situation – What was the task/challenge?
T – Task – What did you need to do to complete the task/overcome the challenge?
A – Action – What actions did YOU take to complete the task/overcome the challenge. Be specific here. Think in terms of ‘I’ rather than ‘we’.
R – Result – What was the outcome? What did you learn during the process?
It may help to think about examples around key competencies (e.g. communication, leadership etc) in advance as this will help you to develop a sense of self-awareness that can be extremely useful in interview situations. Also where possible try to use a broad range of experiences rather than the same scenario in every example. This can help demonstrate versatility and breadth of experience.
5. Be confident but realistic
Confidence in your own ability and what you can bring to the company is key. Be proud of your achievements and learn to sell yourself and your skills. You are your own best advocate and this is an opportunity to share the reasons why you stand out from other applicants. You should however be realistic in what you are saying. Exaggerating your skills is unlikely to get you far and is a risky approach. Also be aware of areas where you may need to improve. These may not necessarily be ‘weaknesses’ rather areas that you recognise as not being as strong and would like to improve on.
6. Be flexible
As a Unilever Future Leader a certain degree of flexibility is required. For some functions this means geographical flexibility (e.g. Supply Chain, HR, R&D). For all functions flexibility in the roles carried out and the tasks within these roles is a must. Take time to consider if this sort of flexibility is something you are willing to take on. Personally, the opportunity to move around the country experiencing different elements of HR is one of the key reasons I chose the scheme. It’s exciting and a fantastic learning opportunity but this may not be for everyone.
7. Ask questions
I can’t advocate the importance of asking questions enough. Yes, this can include prepared questions that you have thought of in advance, but also ensure that during your interview/assessment day you listen to the interviewer and respond where possible. Asking questions helps demonstrate engagement and enthusiasm which is important. When asked for his top tip for graduates at Selection Boards, David Sprent (Vice-President Customer Supply Chain UK and Ireland) spoke about looking for ‘genuine enthusiasm and energy around Unilever and its brands’. Asking questions is a great way to demonstrate this. However, do make sure that your questions are relevant and situation-appropriate. Also try to avoid the ‘obvious’ questions that are answered elsewhere as this could imply that you haven’t done your research.
In addition, if you have any questions before your telephone interview/selection day feel free to contact Unilever’s current graduates via our Twitter / Facebook pages.
8. Make a contribution
This is specifically in regards to the ‘group task’ element of Selection Boards which are never the easiest tasks to get through. The best advice is to make sure that you make a contribution. You are being assessed against key competencies throughout the group task and if you say little or nothing this will inevitably affect your rating. Be assured and confident throughout the discussion and try to demonstrate interpersonal and team skills. Working as a team rather than as competitors will stand you in much better stead so consider your team mates and try to engage with those who may be struggling to find their voice. If you do disagree with another comment, explain why this is a case and suggest an alternative. Try not to become too consumed with finding the ‘right’ answer. How you get to a final solution is often the most important part.
9. It’s never too early to network
The word ‘network’ is constantly used in the business world and whilst at first it may seem intimidating or irrelevant to where you are at, the importance will quickly become clear. It really is never too early to start building your own network. Keep in touch with as many people as you can – course-mates, past employers and lecturers as well as friends. All can be a good source of information and may be able to offer inside knowledge about the function that you are looking at. You might want to consider building a ‘LinkedIn’ profile so you can connect with people in the sectors that you are interested with. It’s also a great place to document your work history, show yourself off and find out about different careers.
10. Stay calm
Interview processes are not the most relaxing of experiences but it is important that you stay calm. Whilst nerves are usually inevitable try to not let them impact your performance. If possible, arrive to the venue with time to spare to enable you to familiarise yourself with the surroundings and avoid any last minute panics about being late. Specifically in regards to the assessment centre remember that there is more than one task during the day. Don’t panic if you feel that you have done badly in one task – this won’t ruin your chances of success and the chances are you are judging yourself harshly. Move on and tackle the next task as a new challenge. It’s a long day but whenever possible try to remain upbeat and interested until you’re on the train home. Remember, you can only do your best and the assessors genuinely want you to do well!
I hope this has been helpful. If you would like more specific tips about Unilever’s recruitment process take a look at Nick’s blog from February this year. If you do have any questions about the recruitment process feel free to ask in the question box below or contact the current grads via Facebook/Twitter. We are happy to help where possible and reply to all questions!
Good luck to everyone!
In BTM we leverage technology to efficiently solve the business challenges faced by Unilever
After Reading these blog entries feel free to leave a comment or question and we’ll get back to you!
Laura – UFLP
I joined Unilever on the UFLP Scheme after obtaining my Masters in Computer Science from University College Dublin. This time last year I didn’t really have a clue what I was going to do once I finished my degree. I was in the final few months of a Computer Science course and I had it in my head that I had signed myself up for a life sitting in front of a computer screen staring at reams of code day in, day out. Fair play to people who do this and enjoy it but I was NOT pleased by this prospect, it’s just wasn’t for me.
At a careers fair at my Uni, I was lucky enough to have a chat with a Unilever representative. I had heard of Unilever and had a good idea of what the company did but I had no idea they had a graduate programme which was IT related. The rep explained the programme a bit more to me. It all sounded great and had me pretty much hooked on the idea straight away. After doing a bit more research I found out that it sounded exactly like what I wanted to do, working on IT related projects, learning project management skills by working with others. The best part was: No coding involved! Being from an IT background wasn’t even a requirement. Most people already on the graduate programme were from completely different fields.
The application process programme was pretty tough if I’m being honest. There are a lot of stages and it does require some time and effort but I promise you it’s totally worth it in the end. It can be hard to balance when you’re also dealing with assignments and exams but it’s all over and done with by March and should only take 4-6 weeks in total
Anyway, as you can probably tell, I got the job and I absolutely love it so far. My first placement involves working on a project rolling out Chatter to others in the company. Chatter islike an internal Facebook just for Unilever employers where we can chat and collaborate on projects and ideas. It’s a really great project and I’m learning a huge amount. My friends all used to make fun of me for being a Facebook addict so now I’ve swapped Facebook for a different Social Network. My days are spent working with people from all different functions, in many different countries. I really like the diversity of the job and constantly meeting new people keeps things interesting. I do a lot of training presentations and demos with others in the company so it has been a really great role for building up my network of people in other functions.
As for future placements, I don’t really know what I’ll be doing yet. You change roles every 6 – 9 months while on the graduate scheme so I’ll find out what I’ll be doing next in the coming months. I have a manager who is in charge of my placements so I’ve had a chat with him about what I’d like to do next. There are opportunities to work in lots of different areas including digital marketing, sustainable living, IT across different geographies, services and IT innovation. There are also many opportunities to work abroad. Some people from the year ahead of us have been based in Singapore and India. BTM graduates are also encouraged to do one placement in a different function which is of interest to them. This is a really great opportunity as it gives you a better idea of how the business works as a whole.
So that’s my experience so far. Best of luck with the applications. I hope to see you next year on the BTM Scheme!
David – IP
I’m David, a student from Lancaster University. When I was looking for placements, I knew I wanted to work for a company where I would be given real responsibility, challenging assignments, global opportunities and an environment that prioritises individual growth. Unilever has provided that and much more. Working within BTM means that I am surrounded by innovation and can really make a difference to the day-to-day running of Unilever which has been really exciting since day one.
I work within IT innovation which allows me to get involved with a wide variety of different projects. The primary focus of my role is on providing custom-built mobile applications designed to help improve the productivity of employees worldwide. I support the design, testing and deployment of these apps whilst ensuring that the project is running smoothly. With over 100,000 global employees, there is a lot of scope to make a huge difference! My work supports Unilever’s culture that allows employees to work from any location at any time – a concept called agile working. This has given me the opportunity to work closely with multiple suppliers and deliver to senior stakeholders within the business.
BTM doesn’t require you to be a technical person, but you have to be willing to learn and adapt to the constantly changing world of technology. I am involved in multiple projects that are updating Unilever infrastructure to meet the needs of a VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous). It’s been really interesting to delve into the world of IT Infrastructure and manage solutions to some of the huge problems facing the business. BTM is a really fast-moving and varied function, I urge anyone who’s contemplating applying to go for it – you won’t regret it!
I’m George, a Business and Technology Management Industrial Placement student. I chose to apply for Unilever because I was excited to be a part of an innovative, consumer product based global company whose brands and products are seen every day, all around us. I chose to apply for BTM because of the opportunity to work in a constantly changing environment where you’re always looking for better ways to do business through effective use of innovation and technology. I was also attracted by the great opportunities offered by the UFLP, and with Unilever being a global organisation, the potential to work abroad.
I work in the Supplier Management Team. We manage global contracts between Unilever and our key suppliers of Technology and IT Services. This shapes the way we do business on a huge scale. I love my job because I get to see tangible results of global negotiations that result in millions of pounds worth of savings, and plenty of exposure to some of the biggest projects going on throughout Unilever,. Much of the work I have been involved in during my first 3 months has been to do with managing and improving the performance of suppliers, primarily on their delivery of Business and Technology Services. A recent example of this work is my development of a Supplier Scorecard, a tool for monitoring the performance of key suppliers. This involves collaborating with suppliers and using my creative initiative to look for new ways to improve both the way we monitor their performance, and the way they deliver their service to Unilever.
BTM gives a fantastic opportunity to take advantage of implementing new and improved technologies throughout the business. One project I am currently working on is the roll out of a tool for signing documents digitally. Not only is this sustainable but it could save Unilever masses of cash by reducing ink and paper usage throughout the company, not to mention time and effort! This is a great example of where I have the potential to make a genuine improvement to the way Unilever do effective and efficient business through an improvement in technological ways of working.
Unilever’s toothpaste brands aren’t that prominent in the UK, but I’m sure you will have come across them if you’ve travelled much – Mentadent, Pepsodent, Signal, Close-Up, Prodent, Zendium, and Zhonghua (I’m sure I’ve missed a few local gems too!). Our toothpaste solves something. In 2010, we set ourselves a target to encourage children & their parents to brush day and night – aiming to change the behaviour of 50 million people by 2020, as part of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan.
We’re currently on track to reach this target, with a massive 49 million people reached to date, with the “Brush Day and Night” campaign running front and centre (a website I worked on in my 2nd placement!). Flouride toothpaste strengthens tooth enamel, and reduces the ability of plaque to produce acid (NHS). In the UK, where much of our water is fluoridated, we take its benefits for granted. But in countries such as Indonesia, Cote D’Ivoire and even France – this is not the case, and using a flouride toothpaste significantly reduces tooth decay – and indeed, providing affordable flouride toothpaste in developing countries is a WHO target. There have been studies that connect poor oral health with increased incidence of heart attacks & strokes, and gum disease has been shown to have an effect on cognitive dysfunction – which is connected with Alzheimer’s Disease.
So – toothpaste actually helps to solve health and hygiene issues across the globe. And the fact that we’re seeing increased sales because of it only demonstrates that our business model works. By making sustainable living commonplace, we’re not only ensuring that our brands have a future, but also millions of people across the globe.
Check out this clip on YouTube to see how we’ve made the Brush Day & Night campaign work around the world – I think this shows it both in France & Indonesia.