Unilever’s chief marketing and communications officer Keith Weed says Unilever’s decision to halve the number of agencies it works with was done in response to the fragmentation of media, but claims there is still room to work with specialist independent agencies in local markets.

Speaking at a press briefing at the Cannes Lions Festival today (21 June), he tried to explain the reasons behind the company’s decision to consolidate the number of agencies on its roster, which he says is just in the process of being completed.

Weed said the fragmentation of media has led brands to work with “10 to 14 agencies”, including a mobile agency, social agency or media agency, which in turn led to the fragmentation of “time and budgets”.

“It [also] meant different bits of content were coming out. What I’m keen to do is to have clarity on the strategy, equity and imagery, and [to have] more consistency. One way of doing that is having fewer agencies,” he said.

This doesn’t mean, however, that Unilever won’t work with smaller independent agencies in local markets, such as “a specialist mobile agency in Jakarta that knows Indonesia well”.

“Of course we will work with them. We are also working with WPP and Omnicom and Publicis. But there’s a group of agencies in the middle that have no extra added distinction than those two [groups]. [The cuts] keep us at a competitive advantage and it helps us negotiate with fewer agencies and focus our work accordingly.”

Unilever also found it was creating too many assets. It launched a tool to measure “brand wear out and wear in”, which found 60% of its ads weren’t ever shown to the masses. The new structure means it is producing 30% less ads, but Weed insists the quality of…