Editor's Comment: Unilever's Paul Polman: a CEO worth every penny

It's easy to be cynical about chief executives these days. Andrew Moss of Aviva is the latest scalp of the 'Shareholder Spring' revolt against excessive pay at underperforming companies.

Unilever and its chief executive, Paul Polman, are not in that class. Since he took the helm in 2009, Unilever's share price has risen 68%. This picture isn't perfect: the group's operating profits grew by just 1% in 2011.

Today (Wednesday) at Unilever's AGM, shareholders are expected to register concern about a fresh incentive scheme for Polman. He will no doubt defend his package eloquently. His near-evangelical speaking style had the audience at last week's Marketing Society annual lecture rapt in admiration.

Earlier that day, Marketing interviewed Polman, a former Procter & Gamble marketer whose strong views on the discipline are informed by experience (see page 28). He left us in no doubt that brands should succeed only if they are a force for good.

He's credible, too, when he rues the prospect of marketing being run by accountants and in observing that most Unilever marketers, because they come from the best schools, are unfamiliar with consumer hardship.

So, Unilever shareholders, take note: as consumers demand the highest ethical standards from brands, Polman's mission to ensure Unilever is run with a conscience deserves to be richly rewarded.

Noelle McElhatton is editor of Marketing


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now


John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network
Branding guru Wally Olins dies aged 83
Duracell short film captures epic Transatlantic voyage
Ash runs Tinder experiment to show smokers are less desirable to opposite sex
British Airways teams up with Gerry Cottle Jnr for summer of rooftop film screenings
Arklu says 'girls can be superheroes too' with doll design competition
Coke enters squash market with Oasis Mighty Drops
Virgin Galactic signs up Land Rover as space flight sponsor
Motorola marketer Andrew Morley departs as Google gears up for sale to Lenovo
US Airways apologises after tweeting obscene image at a customer