Looking at marketing through a new lens: Dana Anderson, CMO, Mondelez

13 Jan,2017

 

What do you see as innovation?

I find innovation fun and challenging and, personally, I enjoy it. When I think about some of my most favourite things that I want to do, they’re all around transitioning into new ways of working. That can be uncomfortable but the pay-off is so rewarding – so often innovation is a part of that. It’s about growth, stretching, excitement and fun. I don’t have bad feelings about change – it’s a necessary part of moving forward and just living. It’s important to brand communication because people need to be engaged and entranced; they want to interact with you differently.

The pace of change is our marketplace in terms of channels and what people get turned on by requires us to think ahead in a fearless manner about what to do and the digitisation of everything. So not only do we experience mobile and social media but, as marketers, we need to learn how to do it and to do it well. Sometimes that involves turning your own view of the world upside down. In the past year, we’ve spent a lot of time here embracing Ehrenberg Bass and Byron Sharp’s Laws of Growth and that’s undoing everything we learned in school and looking at marketing through a new lens. We changed our strategic tools, media guidelines, how we do comms planning and how we brief agencies. That has created a new thing of its own: our Freedom to Create presentation has been delivered to agencies and town halls everywhere so everyone knows what we are looking for. Change can mean more work but it makes you feel like you’re on the fresh end of things and that can be enlivening for a group.

 

Can you share a recent example of innovation within the Mondelez brand portfolio?

We’re just launching a new chocolate bar that merges Oreo with Milka chocolate. Already, even at this early stage, people are crazy for it. Mashing up those two products and marrying what US consumers refer to as ‘European chocolate’ with Oreo, a brand they have loved forever – things like that are examples of product innovation

 

How have you innovated in your relationships with agencies and media owners?

It’s primary to our conversation and to our annual plans, particularly for new partnerships. When we are goal-setting at the beginning of the year, we have found that if we can see an intersection with what we tell our partners we are doing and what our partners tell us they are trying to accomplish, we are going to enjoy greater success. When we’re aligned we can make more progress. Two years ago, we worked with Facebook on creativity in social media – this was an intersection we shared.

We also ask our partners what we can help them with and look for mutual benefit. Sometimes it’s great to just tell each other what we’re thinking about. It’s becoming much more critical to the selection of partners because once you begin to work with people who are innovating you look for it in other places. You can certainly feel it if you have a partner who’s not innovating.

 

How is Mondelēz innovating in terms of its company structure and culture?

We are re-engaging with our marketers. It’s a whole new way of working that affects culture and adopting things that we believe in. The work that we’re doing on content monetisation means that we want to be out there and trying new things. We want people to be proud to be here. Wellbeing is a big part of our growth plan: a couple of members in my group put together a presentation about how brands are marketing in the wellbeing space and it was fascinating; they’d identified eight big trends. They delivered that presentation internally to the finance, legal and IT teams because they wanted to know more about it. Those teams might not be marketing these products but they are still kept informed.

 

What are the benefits of making non-marketers stakeholders like that?

They get a view into a world they don’t participate in too closely. For them, it’s an enjoyable immersion – it helps them just as it helps us when they teach us about IT. That helps our world as it informs the decisions that we make and helps us act more holistically.

 

Which companies have a good approach to innovation that link to clear business outcomes?

DDB’s recent offering to McDonald’s. I don’t know the particulars of the offering except that it was custom-built with compensation on a different level. That’s a hats off.

Also, two campaigns that I have seen recently at awards shows: one is for GoPro that is using word-of-mouth and social media to try to move from extreme sports to everyday usage. The second is U By Kotex launching a pop-up – a whole store about tampons. They had singers, they sold T-shirts with tampons all over them, and you could get your hair done there. People were lining up to go in. One girl said that she wished all public bathrooms were like that. Their purpose was to open a conversation about a product and a topic that isn’t usually treated like a desirable, beautiful thing and they monetised the whole thing. That’s innovative thinking.

 

Is it harder to innovate with products like that, in low-interest categories?

It doesn’t matter because it’s boundary and constraint that causes creativity to flourish. The book A Beautiful Constraint features some of the best creative and ideas that have come out of situations where you would have thought they had nothing going for them.

 

What are Mondelez’s criteria for selecting innovation partners?

I don’t know if there is just one criterion because we work with so many different types of people. When we work with startups, everyone walks away smarter and with an enhanced view of the world: they can’t believe how much information we have and we can’t believe how scrappy they are! Jim Stengel’s new book, Centurions and Startups:

How They Can Thrive by Learning from Each Other, shows that bigger companies are going to need startups because actually that mixture creates sparks that don’t come any other way. Jim has interviewed a couple of our folks that have participated in some of our work with startups specialising in mobile or retail futures. When working with partners, you certainly look for chemistry and competency but it’s a turn-on for someone to have a fresh approach when you’re in a pitch situation. Most people get to the same level of understanding when it comes to strategies because it’s a process of going through what you’re giving them. But sometimes someone zooms way ahead because they have a way of working or a process of taking apart a problem. When you see that in action it’s pretty enthralling and magnetic.

We try to create new engagement models rather than waiting to be reactive. You don’t criticise someone else for not stepping up if you don’t do it yourself! We developed a way of working through Fly Fearless. We piloted it and

now have been working it out for smaller brands and it has meant we have been able to reduce the amount of time [spent working with creative agencies on campaigns] from 52 weeks to 20 weeks. Everyone is around the table at the same time and there are ground rules such as having a strategy before you start. What happens in the session is developed and run by a troika of the creative partner at the agency, a strategic partner on our side or from the agency and brand leaders. Together, they determine what they’re going to do in the session, whether it’s bringing in external stakeholders or whatever to deliver. So [Greek chocolate brand] Lacta is known for being all about love so they invited two guests to their sessions: one was a marriage counsellor and the other directed soap operas.

All parties enjoy it more and agency partners prefer it because work doesn’t get revised 20 times. You can also bring in people who have engaged with us before, such as Google and Facebook, and we can all work together to financial advantage. That’s a form of innovation that anyone can take on. We’re going into our third year now – we did a year of pilots around the world and now we’re rolling it out and training people and showing them how to do it so they can be self-sufficient

 

Can you please share an example of how a Mondelez brand has benefitted from working alongside a startup?

We worked with [community-based traffic and navigation app] Waze and [Mondelez-owned chewing gum brand] Stride years ago on using geo-targeting to show where you could buy Stride. Unbelievably, we saw an increase in sales! What’s more, the outcome was what they learned: they felt innovative and like fearless marketers. They felt they didn’t necessarily need the rules that they had been taught because they had a whole new level of creative partners to work with.

 

Where in the world is a future hotbed of innovation?

It’s everywhere. We work across developing and emerging markets and I’m forever humbled by what I see. You think that developed markets are going to have more but sometimes the things that you see in awards shows – you’ve already seen this in the Warc Innovation Awards – don’t limit themselves. Brave people are brave people. But there’s a difference between brave people who talk about things happening and brave people who are actually doing it so we get to experience their work.

At the 2016 Warc Innovation Awards, an app from Vodafone in Turkey designed to curtail domestic violence won the Grand Prix. Do you think innovation and purpose are closer together than they ever have been?

I really do – more people are interested in purpose. We have a one day session for brands called Storyteller where you work out what your brand’s purpose is so we can then work out strategy. This is part of global marketing. We’ve nicknamed it ‘the luggage tag’ – people can look at it and know exactly what it is, from product to purpose. The visuals really help to clearly communicate to everyone what a product is as well articulating its benefits and values.

 

At the 2016 Warc Innovation Awards, an app from Vodafone in Turkey designed to curtail domestic violence won the Grand Prix. Do you think innovation and purpose are closer together than they ever have been?

I really do – more people are interested in purpose. We have a one day session for brands called Storyteller where you work out what your brand’s purpose is so we can then work out strategy. This is part of global marketing. We’ve nicknamed it ‘the luggage tag’ – people can look at it and know exactly what it is, from product to purpose. The visuals really help to clearly communicate to everyone what a product is as well articulating its benefits and values.

 

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