Foundry 50

Luis Di-Como, SVP of Global Media at Unilever, spoke to a standing-room-only crowd in the Cannes Lions Innovation center about his company’s Foundry program. The Unilever Foundry grows out of Unilever’s commitment to transform our world—and itself—to a more sustainable way of living.

Di-Como, a gifted speaker, recalled Unilever’s long history of marketing firsts, from Lord Lever’s 1895 collaboration with the Lumière brothers to create the world’s first piece of branded entertainment (and we thought brand content was a new idea…) to Dove’s pioneering Campaign for Real Beauty and Turkey’s recent Lulla Bear invention for Omo. “What,” Di-Como asked, “will the future of marketing look like?” No matter what it is, according to Di-Como, Unilever wants to get to the future first.

We don’t know what the future will look like yet, but we’ve got a good idea that sustainability will be a big part of it. Unilever’s Foundry allows the company to collaborate with innovative startup entrepreneurs in order plot the future of marketing…and the sustainable future on which we all depend.

The Foundry process is simple. Unilever issues a brief, and startups pitch their ideas. From there, the startup works with Unilever to create a pilot (in just a few short months). If it looks promising, Unilever and the startup go into partnership. The whole process takes 3 months, and Unilever invests $50,000 per startup funded. Since the launch of the Foundry in 2014, Unilever has received 3,000 applications, invested $6 million, and launched 65 pilots.

Since Cannes is the largest concentration of marketing and communications folks all year long, Unilever brought 50 of the most exciting Foundry startups to the Innovations hall to pitch their ideas. Not only that, but the Di-Como announced a new Foundry challenge and a new, more crowd-sourced Foundry initiative called the Idea Foundry.

The Idea Foundry issued three new challenges today

  • Providing toilets and/or sanitation for 100 million people by 2020.
  • Imagining the sustainable shower of the future.
  • Delivering nutrition from 25 million people in Africa.

Post your ideas, vote on submissions, and compete for prizes—and in the process help make our world a more sustainable place.

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