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Unilever’s Brand And Inclusion Chief Exits

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Unilever’s chief brand officer, Aline Santos, is leaving the business after 35 years, signaling further changes within the marketing department of one of the world’s largest advertisers.

Santos, who also held the title of chief equity diversity and inclusion officer for the CPG giant, will depart at the end of March.

Her roles will not be replaced. Instead, the global marketing team will report directly into recently-appointed chief growth and marketing officer, Esi Eggleston Bracey. The global equity, diversity and inclusion team will report into HR.

A Unilever veteran

Aline joined Unilever Brazil in 1989 as a marketing trainee in its foods department, quickly finding a sweet spot in the personal care. There she launched the first range of hair care products for textured hair with Unilever’s Sunsilk and Seda brands, driving market share growth.

By 2000, she was vp of marketing for Unilever Brazil. Before taking on regional leadership in Latin America, she was part of the team that helped shape Dove’s highly successful “Real Beauty” campaign. By 2005, she was leading Persil and OMO’s global marketing efforts, including the “Dirt is Good” brand platform, which unified Unilever’s laundry brands and grew its market share from $270 million to almost $5 billion in seven years.

In 2016, Santos took on the role of chief equity and inclusion officer. She signed Unilever as a founding member of the Unstereotype Alliance, which, in partnership with the United Nations (UN), aims to eradicate harmful stereotypes from ads.

She’s also worked to build out Unilever’s internal diversity efforts. Under her leadership, the business reached 50:50 gender balance within its management teams.

In a post on LinkedIn, Santos said: “This year I am celebrating 35 years at Unilever. If this were a marriage—and in many ways it has been a love story—35 years would be celebrated as a Coral anniversary, which symbolizes longevity and success. In some traditions, it is also a symbol of wisdom and fulfilment.”

She did not confirm what’s next, instead saying “new adventures” awaited. She will continue her non-exec roles on the supervisory board of Ikea and at London’s V&A Museum.

Big changes at Unilever

Santos’ departure comes amid bigger changes at Unilever within its senior management ranks.

In late 2023, the Dove and Ben & Jerry’s owner announced that Esi Eggleston Bracey, who previously led its U.S. business and oversees the personal care division across North America, would take on the new position of chief growth and marketing officer.

She was promoted to oversee Unilever’s $8 billion marketing budget following the departure of its top marketer, Conny Braams, in August 2023.

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