M-RCBG Senior Fellow-Led Study Group: Myriam Sidibe

Session 1:  Brands on a Mission: “How many lives can a bar of soap actually save?" – The Lifebuoy Case Study
October 1, 4:00-5:30  Taubman 301

Session 2:  Brands on a Mission: The Business of Brushing Teeth and Oral Health
With Guest Speaker Safaa Suleiman, DrPH, Oral Health and Hygiene Program, Earth Institute, Columbia University

November 14, 4:00-5:30, M-RCBG Conference Room B-503

Session 3: Brands on a Mission: How a Failing Sanitation Economy Costs Governments and Businesses Billions (see description below)
With Guest Speaker James B. Tidwell, Research Associate, M-RCBG

November 19, 4:00-5:30, M-RCBG Conference Room B-503

Session 4:  Dove and Real Beauty: How purpose drives Unilever’s biggest brand (see description below)
With guest speaker Steve Miles, Executive Vice President for Dove at Unilever and panel discussion with Myriam Sidibé, Leemore Dafny, John Haig & Nancy Etcoff

April 4, 8:45-10:00am

Session 5: The Business Case of Sustainable Development (see description below)
Guest speaker Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever (2009-2018) and panel discussion with HKS Professor John Ruggie, moderated by Dr. Myriam Sidibe

April 11, 1:15-2:30pm Allison Dining Room T-520

Whose job is it to tackle the health issues and behavioural habits that lie at the heart of prevention? Everyone’s. While such issues have long been viewed as the responsibility of governments, the tide is shifting as a new wave of everyday change-makers rise up and innovations are making a global impact. And amongst these change makers are every-day brands with meaningful marketing budgets that are making headway in promoting key behaviours that have long-lasting impact.  

Imagine a world where, from sunrise to sunset, the brands you love and use every day positively impacted every member of your family—and that these brands made it a priority and a responsibility to make impact matter. That world will only happen if we are able to foster stronger, trusting, evidence-based relationships between the private and public sector. This is the future we should all strive for, where brands can actively integrate key public health actions into their marketing strategies that are in sync with societal needs—and thus contribute ongoing resources to strategically promote development rather than making occasional, haphazard CSR donations, making a positive difference with each product sold and with each campaign delivered. 

There are no governments in Africa or Asia that have the resources to self-finance the SDGs and they will need the business world to not only support their efforts, but also be a committed ally as well (Irene Akua Agyepong, 2017). That future looks bright for the brands that embrace that challenge, as achieving the global goals opens up an economic prize of at least US $12 trillion and well over 50% of the prize is located in developing countries (Commission, 2016). This is in line with the internal data in Unilever showing that over 60% of Unilever’s growth came from brands with social mission, which grew twice as quickly as other brands (Unilever, 2016). In addition, 90% of consumers now more likely to switch to brands that are associated with a good cause (Commission, 2016).
My vision is a world where every brand is contributing to a pressing health need, where companies shelter the growth of these brands, and where government facilitates an environment for such brands to operate. 

The study group will explore how we can define a new discipline - Marketing for Public Health -- unpacking the connections between brand marketing and public health further.  

We will together review case studies that document the contribution that commercial brands currently make to public health, with a specific focus on hygiene, nutrition, well-being and where health promotion and therefore prevention is significant.  We will receive guest speakers from both business and government who will share their work at the intersection of both and see what motivates them and what they see as the way forward for spreading Marketing for Public Health. 

Session 1: “How many lives can a bar of soap actually save?" – The Lifebuoy Case Study
October 1, 4:00-5:30

This first study group will explore the case study of Lifebuoy brand. The Lifebuoy case study is well known (and was described as the ‘best social program ever’ by David Aaker, Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business), and this study group we will explore the genuine difficulties of driving this transformational change inside a multinational corporation. During my 10-year tenure, Lifebuoy has quadrupled in size to become a 700+ million Euro brand. We have developed the world’s largest handwashing movement, reaching more than 350 million people in over 30 countries including India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar, Ghana, and Kenya. We will explore the impact that has been achieved during that time (soap sales/ child mortality reductions) and the skepticism of both the public health world and the business world. 

Session 3: Brands on a Mission: How a Failing Sanitation Economy Costs Governments and Businesses Billions 
With Guest Speaker James B. Tidwell, Research Associate, M-RCBG
November 19, 4:00-5:30

Poor sanitation causes economic losses of more than $220 billion a year globally.  Though every dollar invested in sanitation yields more than five dollars in economic growth, current investments by governments and other donors are only about a third of the more than $1 trillion needed to reach the Sustainable Development Goal of sanitation for all.  The private sector is exploring new and innovative ways to improve sanitation, but faces many challenges in working in this government-dominated ecosystem.  The speakers will discuss some of these emerging products and business models that could lead to sanitation for all and how some of the biggest challenges facing the sector could be addressed through better multisectoral action.

Session 4:  Dove and Real Beauty: How purpose drives Unilever’s biggest brand
With guest speaker Steve Miles, Executive Vice President for Dove at Unilever and panel discussion with Myriam Sidibé, Leemore Dafny, John Haig & Nancy Etcoff 

April 4, 8:45-10:00am

This talk by Steve Miles will explore Dove’s journey into purpose-led marketing. It will address the issues that brands committed to purpose face, and how these can be overcome for better public health outcomes and increased brand growth. A panel discussion with Myriam Sidibé, Leemore Dafny, John Haig & Nancy Etcoff will follow. Breakfast provided. RSVP appreciated but not required: mrcbg@hks.harvard.edu

Steve W. Miles is Executive Vice President for Dove at Unilever plc, a role he has held since 2008. In this role he is accountable for all aspects of marketing, strategy, innovation and communications for the Dove brand (Unilever’s largest) worldwide. He has worked in Personal Care marketing for over 30 years, covering every continent. He was Global Brand Vice President for Lifebuoy 2004-2008, establishing many of the partnership building blocks on handwashing and social impact which have made the brand’s Purpose famous. Within Unilever he also led the corporate marketing digital transformation program in 2015-2016. He has won numerous industry awards for Brand Communication, most notably the Titanium Grand Prix for communications innovation at Cannes in 2013, and Gold Effies for communications effectiveness. A graduate of Cambridge University, he taught English Literature and Language at the University of Naples (1981-1982) and worked in various software engineering posts before embarking on his marketing career.

Session 5: The Business Case of Sustainable Development 
Guest speaker Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever (2009-2018) and panel discussion with HKS Professor John Ruggie, moderated by Dr. Myriam Sidibe

April 11, 1:15-2:30pm Allison Dining Room T-520

Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever (2009-2018), will discuss Unilever’s long-term, multi-stakeholder model and its Sustainable Living Plan, which strives to decouple Unilever’s growth from its environmental footprint while increasing positive social impact. The event will include a panel discussion with HKS Professor John Ruggie, moderated by Dr. Myriam Sidibe, M-RCBG Senior Fellow.

Paul Polman is Chair of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), The B Team and Vice-Chair of the U.N. Global Compact. A leading proponent that business can – and should – be a force for good, he was described recently by The Financial Times as "A standout CEO of the past decade”, whose role in helping to redefine the relationship between business and society has been "path-breaking”. As CEO of Unilever (2009-2018), he demonstrated that a long-term, multi-stakeholder model – captured in the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan – goes hand-in-hand with good financial performance. During his tenure, Unilever was one of the best-performing companies in its sector, delivering ten years of consistent top and bottom line growth. In recognition of his commitment to driving transformational change, Paul was appointed to the U.N. Secretary General’s High-level Panel that developed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He has played a leading role since in highlighting the business case for the 2030 development agenda, including as a founder member of the Business & Sustainable Development Commission. He also remains a U.N.-appointed SDG Advocate. Paul actively engages across industry sectors and global organizations to build scale and maximize impact, including as a leading member of Focusing Capital on the Long-Term (FCLTGlobal), the Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism, the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate and the Food and Land Use Coalition, which he chairs. Conscious of the role that tomorrow’s leaders will play in tackling our most pressing environmental and social challenges, Paul actively supports and mentors’ young leaders, including as a Counsellor and Chair of the Global Advisory Board of One Young World. In recognition of his contribution to responsible business, Paul has received numerous awards, including the Rainforest Alliance Lifetime Achievement Award, the U.N. Environment Programme’s Champion of the Earth Award, the Oslo Business for Peace Award and 13 honorary degrees. He has been honoured with France’s Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, in recognition of his role in the historic 2015 U.N. Climate Change agreement in Paris. In 2018 was named an Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) for services to business. He is also a recipient of the Public Service Star from the Government of Singapore and received the Treaty of Nijmegen medal. Paul has extensive experience of the fast-moving consumer goods industry, having served in senior leadership roles at both Nestle and Procter & Gamble prior to becoming CEO of Unilever in 2009. Since 2010, he has been a non-executive director of Dow. Together with his wife, Kim, Paul founded and helps to run the Kilimanjaro Blind Trust, which works to improve the lives of blind and visually impaired children in East Africa.

Myriam.Sidibe, v.2.jpgDr. Myriam Assa Sidibe: Myriam is one of the world’s leading experts of brands that drive health outcomes through mass behavioural change. From within Unilever, she has created a movement to change the handwashing behaviours of one billion people, the single biggest hygiene behavior change programme in the world, and conceived and established the multi awards winner UN recognized Global Handwashing Day – now celebrated in over 100 countries. Myriam’s approach to pushing boundaries and challenging the status quo has been pivotal to leading a paradigm shift in the way public private partnerships for health/well-being are managed and funded, leading her to be recognized as one of the top 10 Intrapreneurs in the world. Her foresight in establishing Lifebuoy’s social mission has resulted in being replicated across Unilever as best practice examples for brands looking to positively impact the world whilst driving market share. Over the past 20 years, she has worked in over 20 countries in Asia and Africa for the public sector and the private sector, arguing for a more transparent relationship between the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors, advocating the need for businesses to gain growth and profits from engagement in social and health issues in order to build more sustainable, effective interventions, and is a regular commentator in the media on this.  Myriam regularly presents her work on WASH and Nutrition at key public health events (Scaling Up Nutrition Global network, Women Global Health Leaders).  She is equally recognized in the creative world (speaker at Health Lions in Cannes) and is a Ted speaker The Simple Power of Handwashing - Ted Talk. Myriam is a trustee of WaterAid, the world’s largest civil society organization on Water and Sanitation and a commissioner for the Lancet on the future of health in Africa. Myriam is from Mali and holds a doctorate in Public Health from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a Masters in Water and Waste Engineering from Loughborough University, UK. She was trained as an Agricultural and Environmental Engineer from McGill University, Canada. Her research is on how brands that have public health ambitions can be better supported in order to enhance their impact in the world. Her faculty sponsor is Leemore Dafny, the Bruce V. Rauner Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. Email: myriam_sidibe@hks.harvard.edu