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Polman picks Weed as Clift successor with turbo-charged communications role

Congratulations to Keith Weed, who has just been appointed Simon Clift’s successor as global CMO at Unilever.

In fact, there’s a little more to it than that. Weed’s actual title is chief marketing and communications officer. Which means that in addition to Clift’s former responsibilities, ranging from strategy down to marketing communications appointments, Weed will also have PR under his belt.

Paul Polman, the Procter & Gamble-bred chief executive of Unilever, has made no bones about this representing an elevation of the marketing function at the company: “This is the first time Unilever has had a CMO at the top table and is a key step to having a sharper consumer focus in the company.” All of which might seem a little hurtful to Clift, whom many of us had supposed was pretty near the top table himself. One thing he did not have, it seems, was the ear of the chief executive – or not this one at least.

Weed, 48, is – like Clift – a Unilever lifer. An engineering graduate, he joined Unilever in 1983 as a trainee and is currently executive vice president of home care, oral care and water. He’s well known and liked in the industry and was president of the Marketing Society for three years from 2003-06. In his spare time he’s also a non-executive director of Sun Products Corporation and Duchy Originals.

The fact that Polman has picked an insider would seem further proof that the rift between Clift and Polman was personality-driven rather than something precipitated by differences of opinion over “strategy”.

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