Here’s Everything From KITE’s Trip to London and Digital Shoreditch

May 22nd, 2015

Ogilvy Labs, the innovation group of marketing agency Ogilvy & Mather, recently invited KITE CMO Tarah Feinberg out to London to participate in its Lab Day at the Digital Shoreditch Festival, a convergence of the tech and creative industries.

The Ogilvy Labs in London “operates as a self-funded R&D facility that acts as a change agent within Ogilvy Group UK”. The group has an impressive history of driving innovation and startup partnerships for the agency and its clients, so they have been using the KITE platform and services for some time now.

Glimr pitches to judges at Digital Shoreditch. Photo via Digital Shoreditch

Glimr pitches to judges at Digital Shoreditch. Photo via Digital Shoreditch

At and around Shoreditch, Tarah hosted a fireside chat with Jeremy Basset of the Unilever Foundry and judged their first global pitch competition. He also conducted video conversations with Ogilvy Global Head of Social Innovation & Partnerships Leo Ryan and VCCP Innovation Lead Will Harvey, and published an article in The Drum, all focused on best practices for startups and brands partnerships.

Fireside Chat with Unilever Foundry’s Jeremy Basset
Tarah’s onstage chat with Jeremy, who leads the Unilever Foundry, focused on learnings from the first year of this program and the future of big brand-startup partnerships.

“Unilever is really leading corporate innovation in a lot of ways,” Tarah said on stage. “They’ve taken some really big steps towards bringing their global organization together with emerging technology and startups on a regular basis.”

The Unilever Foundry is at the center of this effort, giving the CPG giant a centralized platform and framework that enables it to put startups at the heart of its innovation process and work with them in a systematic way.

“We’ve dramatically accelerated the speed to market, and we’ve dramatically shrunk the cost of experimenting,” Jeremy said.

So far, Unilever has launched pilot programs with over 60 companies in less than a year. The company is looking to startups for help because they’re not only pioneering the future of marketing, Jeremy said, but they’re also pioneering the future of Unilever’s categories: food, personal care, home care and refreshments.

“Success for Foundry is about collaborating across the spectrum of Unilever,” Jeremy said. “We collaborate on ideas, we collaborate on marketing solutions and we also collaborate on innovation.”

Down the road, Unilever wants to continue engaging with startups to become a more effective and efficient business. But more importantly, Unilever hopes to inspire and engage the rest of its industry, Jeremy said.

“We believe it’s not just Unilever that has a responsibility to be partnering with startups — the industry also has a responsibility,” Jeremy said.” Everyone should be engaging in this space.”

Unilever Foundry Scaleup of the Year Grand Finals
On the Digital Shoreditch stage, Tarah helped select the best mature startup (“scaleup”) from the winners of the previous Asia, US and Europe competitions (see video).

“From a judging point of view, it’s really hard because they’re all touching on real problems that companies like Unilever and consumer product companies are facing all around the world,” Unilever Ventures Director Jan Harley said. “We’ve chosen the winner partly on the basis of the team, partly on the technology but also the area of most unmet need within Unilever.”

Ultimately, the jury selected Glimr as the winner of the $50k pilot from a Unilever brand. This innovative UK company is using beacons to bridge the physical and digital media worlds in a truly unique fashion — retargeting mobile ads based on physical location, behavior and other consumer data. This offering has clear implications for Unilever’s many CPG brands, so we expect to see great results from the partnership.


Video Conversations with Ogilvy & VCCP
Running alongside Digital Shoreditch, VCCP hosted “Secret Speakers” sessions that were live-streamed via buzzy social video app Periscope. VCCP Innovation Lead Will Harvey sat down with Tarah to discuss brand and agency involvement with startups, how brands and agencies can internally nurture programs and processes to enable innovation through startup partnerships, and how startups can make themselves stand out to brands.

“If you’re targeting the brand community or marketing community, one of the things you need to think about is what success looks like for them and it requires a lot of translation,” Tarah said. “As an entrepreneur, you may have a PhD in one specific area of the world…Then you have to think about “How do I commercialize that?” Ultimately, how can [you] help them understand how that will future-proof them, how it will help them defend against disruption down the line — two or five years out — and you will become an invaluable partner to them.”


Tarah also had a quick chat with Ogilvy Global Head of Social Innovation and Partnerships Leo Ryan about startups and brand innovation.

“We’re really seeing two types of innovation in the corporate world,” Tarah said. “One is sustainable or incremental innovation. That’s looking at, ‘What goals do I have this quarter or this year that technology can help augment?’ On the other side, businesses are starting to see that they are going to be disrupted if they don’t look a little bit further out.”

Related Content:
Three ways brands can use technology to connect with startups and solve business challenges by Tarah Feinberg via The Drum

Why bringing incubators in house makes sense for corporates: Kite CMO Tarah Feinberg by Natalie Mortimer via The Drum

See KITE’s post on 12 corporate innovation partnerships in action for more learnings and inspiration.