Unilever and Brandtone Sign Two-year Emerging Market Deal

Brandtone, which creates consumer-initiated campaigns in emerging markets, will extend its reach to India, Indonesia, China and Hispanics in the US thanks to a deal with Unilever.

Unilever, a significant shareholder in Brandtone and indeed its founding investor, will benefit from being able to target consumers in these markets with shortcode SMS offers on their products.

CEO of Brandtone Donald Fitzmaurice told Mobile Marketing that his company will work exclusively with Unilever for two years in the 10 markets it now serves – also including South Africa, Brazil, Kenya, Nigeria, Russia and Turkey. The companies have not revealed the financial terms of the deal.

Fitzmaurice said that Brandtone campaigns already see a 20 to 30 per cent redemption rate of consumers getting in touch to participate, around 80 to 90 per cent of those then opt-in to share personal details and brand preferences. In exchange, people are given phone credit or coupons sent straight to their handset.

The messages are paid for by the advertiser via low-cost reverse billing agreements with telcos in the relevant countries – giving them a clear cost-per-engagement measurement for each campaign – and ensuring the consumer can participate for free.

Half of revenue made in emerging markets

He said that the 10 markets Brandtone works in account for 70 to 80 per cent of emerging market revenue for companies like Unilever, contributing around 50 per cent of total revenues. “That’s where most people live and where mobile is not only the most efficient channel but largely the only channel.

“Companies like Uniliever see these markets as the future and are investing more and more of their advertising, promotional and media spend there – and more of what they spend is on digital and mobile.”

Asked whether the market will quickly become crowded with free and fast solutions like Brandtones shortcodes, Fitzmaurice said that he believes consumers will see that brands have started conversations on their terms and invested in their trust over time.