Unilever’s ReHack 2015 fuels the business’ sustainable future

By Editor July 2, 2015

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The Unilever ReHack 2015 event has produced a crop of revolutionary initiatives that use eCommerce to make the Unilever business more sustainable. One team from Huddle Creative, a London-based brand and digital innovation agency, received the top prize and the opportunity to collaborate with Unilever to grow their industry-changing idea on a global scale. In addition, Unilever has found several other projects that they plan to take forward and pilot off the back of the event.

Tech start-ups and individual innovators, digital agencies, major retailers and brands (such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and PepsiCo) joined forces to participate in ReHack 2015. In total, more than 170 of the most creative tech minds from the UK and beyond competed to develop technologies that would make eCommerce a force for good.

Huddle Creative’s winning idea was to engage families and housemates with the issue of household waste using gamification. The judges picked Huddle’s idea because it smartly targeted the biggest proportion of waste in Unilever’s supply chain (a huge 70%) caused by consumers’ use of Unilever products. The compelling format of the team’s proposal plays on our natural competitiveness and desire to compare achievements, with the goal of educating and incentivizing users to adopt more sustainable practices.

The preservation of competitors’ intellectual property is a key point of difference for ReHack, so specific details of the winning projects are as yet undisclosed. However, many of the proposed solutions shared the goal of reducing the proportion of waste at the consumer’s end of the supply chain, so several other ideas were also consumer-focused. Projects noted for their great potential by the judges included new hardware, mobile app development and communications-driven projects. They also addressed the biggest challenges confronting sustainability initiatives around the world today: education and convenience.

The next stage for the winning teams and some of the other more successful projects is to work within Unilever’s business to pilot and scale their ideas, using the business’ resources to put their innovations on a global platform. The process of mentorship and development has proven invaluable to the winners of ReHack 2014, who are about to go live with their winning idea from last year in smart hardware.

Joe Comiskey, eCommerce Innovation Lead at Unilever, said: “We’re thrilled to have found such an exciting and relevant project to grow over the next few months. ReHack showed some of the finest talent that the UK start-up scene has to offer, and with such a range of big ideas for initiatives inspired by sustainability, we’ve seen a lot of potential from several other groups that we will be pursuing off the back of the event.”

After a straight 24 hours’ overnight hacking, the judges – including senior Unilever industry specialists, a technical adviser and web psychologist Nathalie Nahai – were pitched 27 ideas, selecting a top handful of initiatives that could drive Unilever’s ambition to make sustainable living commonplace globally.

About Unilever:

Unilever is one of the world’s leading suppliers of Food, Home and Personal Care products with sales in over 190 countries and reaching 2 billion consumers on any given day. It has 174,000 employees and generated annual sales of €48.4 billion in 2014. Over half of the company’s footprint is in the faster growing developing and emerging markets (57% in 2014). Their portfolio includes Persil, Dove, Knorr, Domestos, Hellmann’s, Lipton, Wall’s ice cream, Marmite, Magnum and Lynx.

Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan (USLP) aims to double the size of the business whilst reducing environmental footprint and increasing positive social impact. It says the USLP is their strategic response to the challenges businesses face operating in an uncertain and volatile world. Its three goals are:

• Helping more than a billion people take action to improve their health and well-being
• Decoupling their growth from their environmental impact
• And enhancing the livelihoods of millions of people by 2020
Supporting these goals, the company has defined nine commitments, underpinned by targets encompassing social, environmental and economic areas. For more information about the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan at www.unilever.com/sustainable-living/.

Unilever was ranked number one in their sector in the 2014 Dow Jones Sustainability Index. In the FTSE4Good Index Series, they attained a top environmental score of 5, leading to inclusion in the FTSE4Good Environmental Leaders Europe 40 Index. In 2014 they led the list of Global Corporate Sustainability Leaders in the GlobeScan/SustainAbility annual survey – for the fourth year running. In 2014 Unilever was named in LinkedIn’s Top 3 most sought-after employers across all sectors and is also LinkedIn’s No. 1 most sought-after FMCG employer worldwide. For more information about Unilever and its brands, please visit www.unilever.com.

About Hoxton Mix Collective:

What is the Collective? Within the digital sector innovation is a continuous cycle. Innovation is a resource that all businesses can always use more of, and like any resource we must do our best to harvest it, and lay the seed for a fresh new crop.

A common complaint of digital marketers working for big brands is that some of the more established through-the-line creative agencies don’t ‘get digital’. The Collective is a new way to introduce companies that have requirements for digital work to small innovative agencies.

It’s sometimes hard for companies to find new talent, technologies and ideas that complement their brand. It also sometimes hard to procure those small companies as they may not have a long trading history or extensive experience in managing large digital projects.

The Collective is a curated group of highly specialised fast moving digital companies, coupled with digital consultancy to make sure any brief received from a company results in a response which is cohesive and pulls together the most relevant of capabilities, technologies and minds.