Unilever Prestige and WWD Partner to Launch: Project Connect—Bridging the Digital Divide

Unilever Prestige and WWD have announced a new initiative to showcase next-generation business leaders whose products, services and solutions provide industry advancements that involve the connection between technology and the human touch.

COVID-19 has undoubtedly caused immense acceleration in technology in every aspect of life including everyday interactions – proving that in a post-pandemic world, technology and virtual communication will be core elements. Though while technology continues to allow progress amid disruption and enable near-constant communication, research shows that 50 percent of people are reporting feeling isolated this year, compared to 23 percent just two years ago.

With Project Connect, Unilever Prestige and WWD aim to harness combined expertise and power of storytelling to promote a human-centered approach that highlights the “heart and soul” behind technology and help bridge the digital divide. The technology product or solution to be showcased in this program will serve as a way to keep us connected even as the pandemic moves us into a more isolated state.

“As we look forward to a post-COVID-19 world, we need to pivot and rely on innovative technology more than ever,” said Amanda Smith, president of Fairchild Media. “There is nothing more exciting for WWD then partnering with Unilever Prestige to power our portfolios with purpose and celebrate trailblazers who are the next generation of business leaders.”

Vasiliki Petrou, Executive Vice President of Unilever Prestige.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Unilever

By scaling innovations in technology that will create a bridge to the future, across industries, and aid people around the world in engaging today’s tech driven market, a post-pandemic world will require collaboration and new connections and partnerships. Together, with a unified goal to bridge the digital divide with human touch, WWD and Unilever Prestige will guide a journey of connection across all industries.

“Having spent my career raising awareness of future focused brands, I’m excited to find new and innovative entrepreneurs whose business models push the boundaries of what we’re used to,” said Vasiliki Petrou, Executive Vice President of Unilever Prestige. “Brands with passion and purpose tackle a mission bigger than life, and there’s no escaping that digital experiences have been the future for a long time now. But COVID has really expedited that process, and personally for me, coming from brands where human touch and face-to-face interactions are so vital to the customer experience, it’s felt like there is a missing piece. To truly serve our consumers now and in the future, we need to enrich that space at the intersection of our digital lives and our need for human connection.”

Amanda Smith, President, Fairchild Fashion Media

Eligible entrepreneurs will be asked to submit an application to be overseen by a panel of industry experts, including members of the WWD and Unilever Prestige executive teams. The winning entrepreneur(s) will be presented with grant funding and a robust prize package of resources that include mentorship, opportunities to help scale the business, and exposure of your brand to new industries and audiences.

“We want to restore confidence in the industry,” said Smith. “Confidence that there are technologies and innovations that can rebuild the marketplace and provide advancements for future success.  This program is all about purpose and empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs gives us the greatest purpose of all.”

Organizers said innovations in technology will create “a bridge to the future.”<span style="font-family: -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, 'Segoe UI', Roboto, Oxygen-Sans, Ubuntu, Cantarell, 'Helvetica Neue', sans-serif; font-size: 16px;"> </span>

Eligible entrepreneurs who wish to apply for the Project Connect grant must have the following:

  • A future-focused mindset that prioritizes pandemic rebuilding across industries.
  • A business plan that serves to humanize technology for the next generation of consumers and entrepreneurs across all industries including beauty, tech, fashion, CPG, etc.
  • Products or services that demonstrate humanity with technology and virtual communication by associating them with human touch through virtual means.
  • Social impact aligned with efforts that promote an inclusive platform and progressing marketplace values within the business.
  • Industry-wide implications through scalable technology that help to drive consumer adoption of technology solutions and professionals to adapt to a future marketplace.

Applications must be submitted by May 28, 2021 and will be reviewed by a full panel of industry experts including Amanda Smith and Vasiliki Petrou.

All interested in applying for the “Project Connect – Bridging the Digital Divide” grant: Apply Here

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