Five ways to make Digital work harder

09 Apr,2014


By Ravi Balakrishnan


Like most managers, Bonin Bough, vice president – global media & consumer engagement, Mondelez International has a lot to say about digital. Unlike most managers, he talks about what he’s already done or is doing instead of mere wishful thinking.


Let No Idea Be Deemed Too Outlandish:

At South By Southwest (SXSW), people waited two-and-a-half hours for an Oreo. To their credit, these weren’t plain vanilla biscuits. To create an impact at “the Davos of digital”, Bough took along a specialised 3D printer to create customised cookies. It handled 12 flavours, two variants and four patterns; a total of over 10,000 variations. Working with Twitter, Mondelez created an algorithm based on conversation around trending topics which would affect the shape and flavour of the cookie. Bonin Bough, vice president – global media & consumer engagement, Mondelez International, says “Wonderfilled was the name of the campaign and if you saw some of those people, they were thinking ‘How is this possible?'”


He adds with a hint of pride “We reached out six years into the future and brought it now.” He imagines a not too distant time when Superbowl can be discussed over Twitter and the consumer can buy a cookie that represents the entire media experience. He says, “Real time has become a kitschy phrase about Facebook. That’s cute but it’s not the future. The future is being able to deliver total consumer experiences in real time.”


Creative Agencies Are Not Necessarily Your Best Partners

“Creative agencies used to manage 100% of our communications; now they manage 60% or 50%. As that happens, we keep adding agencies which is not sustainable,” admits Bough. Even as he works with agencies to help “rethink their approach”, one of the big problems is how TV centric they have become. Bough recalls, “One of our colleagues says ‘creative agencies jump right into showing me TV and I say it’s too soon! I feel violated.'” And that’s because TV is still where most agencies’ strengths lie. A couple of brand teams at Mondelez enlisted ad agencies to create video games for their brands instead of approaching a professional game developer. Several hundred thousand dollars in development cost later, all they had to show was 65,000 and 23,000 downloads. Bough says, “I wanted to find a brand so I could show them I could do it right and wave it in their face since that’s the sort of colleague I am!”


He approached popular mobile developer Pik Pok, giving them three rules: a) Don’t desecrate Oreo b) Try to get the ritual of twist, lick, dunk (the game went on to be named Oreo: Twist Lick Dunk) and c) make the game generate revenue. Pik Pok returned with an Oreo themed game with a loose resemblance to Fruit Ninja. It has over four million downloads, is the No 1 app in 12 countries and people have spent over a 1000 years playing it. It’s sold 60,000 virtual Oreos. And most importantly, its cash positive; Kraft makes money off the game, selling ads even if the bulk of this revenue goes to the developer.


So Find the Right Partners:

Mondelez runs Mobile Accelerators in several of its markets to bring its brands and startups together. After an arduous whetting process, 9 brands agreed to run pilots with nine startups. The people who worked for the startups became ‘intrepreneurs’: in charge of big innovations and programmes. Bough says, “Those culture transformation programmes are what helps us move at the speed we are driving at.” Two projects from these nine teams are now being incubated by venture capitalists. One of them, Beta Box examines the potential for sampling. Bough explains, “If someone’s renting a dress, why shouldn’t there be a pack of Bel Vita or Dairy Milk in there? We are trying to reinvent sampling by looking at places where there’s inventory.”


Question Your Biggest Successes

Oreo gained a lot of press with its tweet around a power outage on Super Bowl. It’s enough to make most managers become almost unbearably smug. Except Bough counts it a bit of a failure. He says, “We didn’t spend any money behind the tweet. Imagine if we had, and if all our media was connected, how many more eyeballs would have seen it.” He believes all media is a lot more powerful than some media. Mobility in particular is important since it’s a channel that works with other media to make things better. Mondelez has moved beyond wondering how much a tweet delivers to the bottom line and is focusing instead on how everything connects. He says, “I don’t care about an individual tweet, but about how it drove my TV. Sometimes we see twice the effect on TV when we run social underneath it. On an average, consumer goods companies spend 70% to 80% on TV; if you can make that work twice as hard, it’s transformational.”


Get Personal And Sincere With Apologies

Something as potentially volatile as social media is just a stray tweet away from exploding. Many brand managers who saw their messaging “go viral” probably wish it had died a quiet, obscure death in an unfrequented corner of YouTube. For instance, Hyundai with a car commercial that allegedly promoted suicide. Or Mountain Dew that drew a lot of flak for its ads featuring a violent, maniacal goat. When the horse finally bolts the stable, Bough recommends immediately snapping into damage control mode.


In an example from a previous job (he would rather not get into the specifics), a campaign began to draw reams of bad publicity on Twitter. Bough wrote personal mails to the people retweeting the ads, completing 60 of these in the first two hours. He says, “There ought to be a willingess to communicate and apologise. There’s a humanisation of brands right now where people are willing to move forward. I wrote to the influencer who started it and we quickly turned it into a positive for the brand since we were apologising publicly and responding individually.”


Source:The Economic Times

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