How to Rev Up Unilever
Thursday, May 9, 2019
In a compound in Shanghai two rising stars in the marketing world used to share a beer together. One was Alan Jope, who in January became the boss of Unilever, a 130-year-old Anglo-Dutch consumer-goods firm famous for its Knorr stock cubes and Dove soaps. The other was Miguel Patricio, the incoming chief executive of Kraft Heinz, the macaroni-to-ketchup deal machine that in 2017 choked in an attempt to swallow Unilever.
He may run a firm that is worth $175bn, but Mr Jope seems the sort of bloke with whom it would be easy to have a pint. The 55-year-old Scot is refreshingly down-to-earth. He wears jeans and trainers, but no tie. He has good tales to tell. His first job was driving a butcher’s van. His hobby is joining friends on an intermittent mission to circumnavigate the globe on a BMW 750 motorcycle—and he has bones, broken in the Gobi desert, to prove it. He is also loyal to former drinking buddies, such as Mr Patricio. There is, he has said, “no Schadenfreude” about the troubles at Kraft Heinz following its calamitous results in February.