Jeremy Basset | The Innovator 25 2016
Jeremy BassetThe Innovator 25:

Jeremy Basset

Head of Unilever Foundry



Innovation is the only tool we have to create a more sustainable future."


Basset's role as head of Unilever Foundry sees him oversee technological and cultural transformation across the FMCG giant. Formerly global marketing strategy director at Unilever, he launched Unilever Foundry to drive the company's work with startups. As part of the initiative, furthermore, Basset's work involves partnering social impact startups with relevant Unilever brands that share a similar purpose and vision. Basset is a fierce advocate for using technology to drive social good, in keeping with Unilever's purpose-oriented corporate strategy. "The brands that really put sustainability at the center are growing 30% faster than the rest of our portfolio," he said earlier this year, noting that the business case is critical.

How do you define innovation?

Innovation is having the boldness to go where no one has gone before. It’s also the only tool we have to create a more sustainable future.

Most innovative PR/comms campaign you’ve seen in the last 12 months?

Excluding the great work we’ve done at Unilever, I was really inspired by Volvo Lifepaint. They’ve done a great job of taking a non-linear approach of telling the Volvo story, whilst creating a new line of revenue and being true to the essence of the brand. It’s also a great example of how corporates can scale innovation through collaboration – in this case with a Swedish company Albedo100.

What brands and/or agencies are most innovative when it comes to marketing/PR?

Again, leaving aside the work our brands at Unilever are doing, I’m constantly amazed by the level of innovation generated amongst marketing & ad-tech startups. They are genuinely pioneering the future.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider ‘innovative.’

The biggest innovation which I’ve seen at Unilever has been the launch of the ‘Unilever Sustainable Living Plan’. Through the USLP, our organisation has united around the purpose of decoupling growth from environmental impact. That vision has ignited a plethora of innovations, and was also the catalyst to the creation of the Unilever Foundry: our platform to innovate through collaboration.

In what area of marketing/PR do you see the most innovation?

Content & creative.

How would you describe the communications/PR industry’s level of innovation?

About the same as other marketing disciplines.

Where do you see the greatest opportunity for marketing & PR to become more innovative?

Influencer relations.

Who most influences how innovative a brand’s marketing/PR is?

How do you find inspiration?

In the Unilever Foundry, every day we’re exposed solutions being crafted by startups that inspire the new and make the future a reality today. Whether it’s tech-startups who are rethinking our approach to marketing, or social entrepreneurs who are tackling some of the world’s greatest social challenges, I find startups themselves incredibly inspirational.

Advice for people seeking to bring new ideas, ways of doing things to their organizations?

The future is unknown. Experimentation is the only way we can navigate our way into an unknown future.