Global Newsmaker: Marjolein van Kampen

Unilever's global comms director tells PRWeek Global all about her big new role.

Marjolein van Kampen
Marjolein van Kampen

Marjolein van Kampen hit the headlines last year when, as global brand PR director, she put in place the company's first global PR roster. She recently took on a new role as global comms director for Unilever plc.

Explain your new role to us

I'm still doing the brand PR job, but it's a little bit more focused. The global brand PR infrastructure has now been set up, and most of our brand teams now have PR agencies they are comfortable with. I'm basically supporting Vindi Banga, who is president of foods, home and personal care. And also supporting chief research and development officer, Genevieve Berger. If you look at her CV you will fall out of your chair. A lot of the new role is supporting internal comms, leadership comms, webcasts, external support and support for the corporate media department.

Last year you led the formation of Unilever's high-profile global PR agency roster. Why take this approach?

Locally, brand teams can still choose whichever agencies they want. But global brand teams for our 25 global brands have to work within the roster. We also wanted to align with the current media groups we work with: Interpublic Group, Omnicom Group and WPP. So we selected GolinHarris, Fleishman-Hillard and Ogilvy PR. Edelman continues to handle the work they had, but they won't receive any new briefs. Icon, from Chime Communications, we chose because they offer a channel-neutral approach. Obviously, through a roster you achieve a certain a cost-efficiency, and it's a benefit for agencies themselves.

What is the biggest comms challenge facing the Unilever brand?

We're currently doing a lot of work with Unilever's corporate brand and looking at how the corporate brand can be better leveraged. From a comms point of view, this is a great opportunity. So, for example, we've started putting the Unilever logo on ads - but this is dependent on the country. In the US, people wouldn't recognise the Unilever corporate brand.

What is it that interests you about Unilever?

Over the years, it has succeeded in creating a good diversity of people and also a diversity of work styles. That makes it interesting. My current role is quite broad, so I have the opportunity to engage with different people. The global mindset is something I really enjoy.

Which are your favourite media?

Personally, I love The Economist. From a corporate point of view, it would be the business press. If I'm talking on behalf of a brand, it would be more about consumer media. And every brand has to engage with social media.

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