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Marketing Makes a World of Difference

Pictured left to right: Elliot Lum of Sony Music, host of the Marketing Makes a World of Difference Think Tank at New York's Sony Club; Babs Rangaiah, Unilever; Morten Albaek, Vestas; Deborah Malone, The Internationalist; Albe Zakes, TerraCycle; Kieran Foley; Digicel.

Vestas' Albaek, Unilever's Rangaiah, Digicel's Foley & TerraCycle's Zakes Talk About New Marketing Models and Doing Good

Last week, The Internationalist and the ANA/Association of National Advertisers presented the first in a series of think tanks called Marketing Makes a World of Difference that enables marketers to learn more about programs that do good, transform brand and consumer relationships, and make an impact on the world at large.

Four extraordinary marketers of varied national origin from four different industry sectors discussed how they are helping their companies embrace big, sustainable ideas with innovative marketing strategies that connect deeply with customers' passions and values. These programs go beyond charitable giving, Corporate Social Responsibility projects, "green" initiatives, or even cause-related ventures. They are simply CENTRAL to marketing ideals and new business models. When done right, these initiatives result in growth and in literally making a difference in the world.

Today's social media environment with its constant sharing, commentary, advocacy and criticism has dramatically shifted the rules of "doing good business," and global marketing organizations must evolve to address new challenges and opportunities. The assumption of responsibility and the adoption of greater transparency are now critical to how any brand or business plays its proper role in society. This new way of working represents a global revolution in marketing objectives and possibilities.

The speakers included:

  • Morten Albaek, Group SVP, Global MarCom & Corporate Relations for Denmark's Vestas Wind Systems, outlined Wind for Prosperity, a new global initiative based on an innovative commercial business model to enter emerging markets and ensure long-term sustainable economic development by providing electricity to those without it.
  • Babs Rangaiah, Vice President of Global Media Innovation & Ventures for Anglo/Dutch Unilever, shared the next stage of the company's efforts to communicate its belief in sustainable growth via the debut of "Project Sunlight."
  • Kieran Foley, Group Marketing Director for Ireland's Digicel, a global telecommunications company, discussed how the service provider does business in some of the world's poorest regions by recognizing its responsibility to build communities while delivering on its promise to "be extraordinary."
  • Albe Zakes, Global Vice President of Communications for TerraCycle Inc., demonstrated how the innovative recycling company has grown to operate in 24 world markets with a $20 million annual turnover, thanks to smart PR initiatives and brand collaboration in today's inspiring social media world.

Vestas' Morten Albaek characterized this new way of thinking by describing it as "the intersection of capitalism and humanism." He added, "These projects go beyond CSR; they represent new business models. The role of marketing is still to create future demand for products and services. Today, marketing also drives new programs for new generations. Marketers must be at the forefront of the business--thinking 5, 10 or even 15 years ahead of the sales cycle."

Denmark's Vestas Wind Systems A/S, is the world's biggest wind turbine manufacturer. The company's inspirational CMO Morten Albaek had an insight last year that is now at the root of a ground-breaking corporate initiative to fight energy poverty. He knew that approximately 1.3 billion people today live without reliable access to electricity. He also realized that Vestas has the ability to identify areas of the world where wind resources can be exploited at low cost in remote communities. Albaek and his team discovered that 50 million people are living in areas of high poverty with abundant wind resources. Wind for Prosperity was born when Vestas recognized that rural, off-grid communities could experience sustainable prosperity by harvesting the wind in an economically-viable manner.

This week in New York, Vestas' Morten Albaek, in collaboration with the United Nations and Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Managing Director and CEO of Masdar, Abu Dhabi's renewable energy company, will introduce the Wind for Prosperity initiative. Along with an esteemed panel including Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute and Professor of Sustainable Development at Columbia University and Georg Kell, Executive Director of United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), these leading energy experts will discuss poverty, electricity access, sustainable growth, and how other corporations can lend support.

The initial goal of Wind for Prosperity is to deploy wind energy that provides electricity for 100 communities or roughly one million people within the next three years.

Unilever has made headlines for creating one of the industry's most comprehensive programs to drive consumer-led growth that is economically, environmentally and socially sustainable. Called "Crafting Brands for Life," the program embeds sustainable living at the core of the company's marketing strategy. In fact, Unilever dismantled their CSR department to demonstrate that "crafting brands for life" is not an "add on," but an essential part of the Unilever ethos. The marketing department is responsible for taking the lead for sustainability. This thinking has led to a strategy to reinvent marketing to better reflect how people engage with brands.

Babs Rangaiah, Vice President, Global Media Innovation & Ventures shared how Unilever unveiled just last week its biggest corporate brand campaign to date. Called "Project Sunlight," it takes Unilever's sustainability message to consumers as they think about creating a better life for the planet and the people who inhabit it.

Click here to see the Why Bring a Child Into This World?

Project Sunlight debuted online November 20 for Universal Children's Day in the UK, Brazil, India, Indonesia and the US and involves such partners as UNICEF, Save the Children, and the World Food Program. It also encourages consumers to engage through a dedicated website,, as well as through other digital and social media channels, like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter via #brightfuture.

Kieran Foley, Group Marketing Director of global telecommunications company Digicel, has effectively used marketing to deliver mobile phone service in the poorest regions of the world--where people literally have to choose between making a phone call and having a meal. With a strong belief in true corporate responsibility, Digicel has transformed schools, education, youth programs, community engagement and employee involvement to build a 92% brand awareness and a loyalty rate that would be the envy of some of the world's best-known products.

As Group Director of Marketing at Digicel, Kieran has ultimate responsibility for the areas of brand development, advertising, communications, public relations, promotions, business intelligence, events management, research and sponsorship across all markets in the Caribbean, South Pacific and Central America. Entertainment and Sports sponsorship have also been critical to Digicel's outreach. In fact, through Foley's efforts, Digicel created the Caribbean Premiere League for West Indies cricket. He said, "This is a great opportunity for us to invest not only in what will be an amazing event, but also in the young cricketers who will benefit from around the region. The familiarity with and respect that West Indies fans have for Digicel is because of its close connection with the game and the fans."

Albe Zakes, Global Vice President of Communications at TerraCycle, Inc., explained how in just six years the small startup became the world's leading "upcycling" company, which converts difficult-to-recycle waste materials into eco-friendly, affordable products available at major retailers worldwide. TerraCycle partners with major CPG companies like Kraft Food, Nestle, L'Oreal, Mars and PepsiCo to run community based collection fundraisers that function both as innovative packaging reclamation initiatives and cause-related marketing programs. TerraCycle has grown into an Inc. 500 company with $20 million annual turnover and operations in 24 markets throughout North America, South America and Europe.

TerraCycle makes good use of understanding the power of today's social media age. Under Albe Zakes' management, TerraCycle's PR department has secured over 10,000 unique media placements since 2007 and secured over $200 million dollars in ad value for TerraCycle's partners and products.

Marketing Makes a World of Difference is part of THE INTERNATIONALIST 1000 initiative in global alliance with the ANA/Association of National Advertisers. It is made possible through the generous year-long support of the following partners: BBC &, Elateral, Financial Times, MediaCom, RPM Sport Management, and Vertic.

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