Unilever Foundry at Cannes Lions Innovation



Unilever Foundry is Unilever’s global platform for engaging with start-ups and scale-ups to partner with their 400 brands worldwide. Its primary goal is to speed up the pace of innovation at Unilever.

What we did

Our mission is to position Unilever Foundry as a leader in connecting brands with startups, opening the marketing industry’s eyes to the potential that marketing tech startups can offer and pioneer the future of marketing in the process.

At the heart of this year’s campaign was Cannes Festival of Creativity, where Unilever Foundry partnered with Cannes Lions Innovation to bring together the worlds of data, technology and ideas.

Our task was to convince the creative community that startups are pioneering the future of marketing, and foster relationships between brands and startups, by introducing the world’s leading creatives to the best startups from around the world.

We launched a global contest to find the Foundry 50 – the 50 best marketing technology startups in the world – who would win a trip to Cannes Lions Innovation Festival with Unilever Foundry. Startups were invited to apply online, before an expert panel including Brett Hoberman and Marc Mathieu chose the lucky final 50.

Our biggest challenge was maintaining momentum between the launch of the contest and Cannes itself, without getting lost amongst the white noise surrounding the biggest event on the creative industry calendar. So we implemented a three-phase communications plan, targeting the startup and marketing industries:

  1. In March, Kaper revealed the partnership between Unilever Foundry and Cannes Lions Innovation to launch the search for the Foundry 50. Technology, startup and marketing media around the world were targeted to reach the best startups and encourage them to apply.
  2. Two weeks ahead of the Cannes Lions Innovation event, as the buzz started to build around Cannes 2015, Kaper exclusively revealed the final Foundry 50 to industry-leading publication Ad Age, alongside an interview with Head of Unilever Foundry Jeremy Bassett
  3. At Cannes Lions Innovation, we conducted one-on-one media briefings with nine key international journalists for a briefing on Unilever Foundry’s vision and successes to date, and a ‘Speed Date’ with some of the 50 startups in a dedicated event space.

This was supported by a social media campaign on Twitter and LinkedIn, with live tweets from key events at Cannes Lions Innovation and event films including a series powered by one of the Foundry 50 – SeenIt.


Unilever Foundry dominated the media coverage around Cannes Lions Innovation, and cemented its reputation as a leader in collaboration with startups.

Results included:

  • 38 pieces of coverage across campaign, with total reach of over 150 million
  • Exclusive interview with Campaign Asia to announce the partnership between Unilever Foundry and Cannes Lions Innovation
  • 25 pieces of pre-event coverage, including key titles in UK, US, India, Singapore, Spain, Italy and Australia
  • Exclusive reveal of Foundry 50 with Ad Age
  • 9 media briefings at Cannes Lions Innovation, including BBC World, Mashable and key marketing titles in UK, Brazil, India and Australia
  • 9 pieces of event coverage, including Economic Times India, Marketing and Campaign
  • During Cannes Lions Innovation, over 45k Twitter impressions were achieved, and over 350 retweets and favourites on Twitter