Unilever’s chief digital and marketing officer Conny Braams has been named Global Marketer of the Year for 2021 by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA).
Braams was one of seven global marketers to be shortlisted for the award, alongside CMOs from Natura, Coca-Cola, Lego, Dole Sunshine, Mars and Diageo. She was awarded the accolade following a combined vote from an expert jury and the industry at large, including WFA members, with each accounting for a half of the final score.
“Conny has made a rapid impact at Unilever in very challenging circumstances,” said Raja Rajamannar, the WFA president and chief marketing and communications officer of Mastercard, who headed up the expert jury.
“She has demonstrated how marketing – when done with empathy – can help solve consumer challenges, ensure brands are focused on providing not just value but also values, and stand out in culture. She has shown true leadership and is a worthy winner of this award.”
As Unilever’s first-ever chief digital and marketing officer, Braams is responsible for its end-to-end digital transformation and marketing worldwide. She was appointed to her current position in January 2020 following a broad international career at Unilever spanning more than three decades, with a track-record in driving change at scale.
Under her leadership the company has invested heavily in AI and machine learning, as well as evolving its ‘Digital Hubs’ to ‘Digital Marketing and Commerce Hubs’ to benefit from the increasing convergence of media, entertainment and commerce.
Unilever’s digital spend is now more than 40%, with some parts of the world – such as China – significantly higher as Unilever increases spend in areas such as gaming, influencer marketing, entertainment, new digital business models and digital commerce. Braams recently led a global media agency review as the company’s marketing strategy evolved in this dynamic media landscape.
She says: “It was an honor to be included among a line-up of heavy weights in the WFA Global Marketer of the Year shortlist and it’s a fantastic acknowledgement to win! Of course, this award is not about me – it recognizes the outstanding marketing community at Unilever that grows our brands, powered by purpose, innovation and creativity. Thank you.”
The annual contest, run in partnership with The Drum, celebrates the role that global and regional marketers play in changing their businesses, the industry and society for the better.
Stephan Loerke, the chief exec of the WFA, added: “All seven of our shortlisted candidates have made a huge impact on the businesses they work for and demonstrated the diversity of talent in leadership positions across our industry. They have all delivered the full power of marketing for their companies as brands have been challenged to adapt to rapid changes in consumer purchasing behavior and media consumption.”