Unilever’s Mathieu: Intrusive Advertising Will Be Dead in a Few Years

Branded content and native advertising is “the future,” Eric Hippeau, the former CEO of the Huffington Post, declared at Percolate’s “Transition” conference held July 16 in New York City.

The sentiment was a common one among the marketing event’s speakers, including Unilever’s SVP of marketing, Marc Mathieu, who said that within just a few short years, consumers will only be engaged in marketing they want to see.

“I really am convinced that in five years from now, three years from now, people will not—I will not—receive advertising messages on my phone I don’t want,” he said. “I don’t want them. You don’t want them, so why do we want to push them to people?”

Long gone is “the world of the classical TV ad,” Matthieu said, and with it the old model of trying to deceive consumers with half-truths and “myths.” Here to replace it is the act of “finding a truth and telling it,” he said.

BarkBox is just one company that’s reestablish that personal touch, having launched The BarkPost, an Upworthy for dog lovers that attracts 2 million readers each month.

“Really what I wanted to do when I built BarkBox was try to rethink branding,” co-founder Henrik Werdelin said. “Our objective is to figure out what it is we want people to say about us, and then not say that, but think what are the signals we can create that will allow other people to say those things and feel those things about us.”

The BarkPost is one of those signals. Packed with social-ready posts like “The No. 1 Simplest Way to Improve Your Dog’s Life” and “Dogs in Wheelchairs Play Fetch, Inspire Us All,” the site offers a steady diet of puppy-inspired reads to current and future customers.

“With brands, signals have to be many,” Werdelin said. “Users see us all the time in all these different places and we have to be present wherever they are. And that means we just have to create a lot of stuff.”

Mathieu hopes the rising content marketing movement—led by brands like BarkBox—will help the marketing industry regain its soul. “We’ve become so much of a selling machine as opposed to … real human beings.”

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Image by Mario Klingemann
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