Kraft must retain Cadbury’s brand culture

Kraft’s pledge to take a “best of both approach” to its marketing as part of its accepted £11.9bn takeover bid must focus on integrating the cultures of both brands if it is to succeed, according to marketing and branding experts.

In its final offer, the US food giant says it will look to “augment the world-class capabilities of both Kraft Foods and Cadbury” with the aim of creating a “leader in the global foods and confectionery sector.”

Grey London chief executive Chris Hirst cautions: “Best of both is an easy thing to say, but to achieve and succeed with it will be a major challenge for Kraft, made all the more difficult because of having to find ways of putting together the cultures of the business.”

Irene Rosenfeld, chairman and chief executive of Kraft Foods, says the company has great respect for Cadbury’s brands, heritage and people, and they will thrive as part of Kraft Foods. But Siegel & Gale chairman Tom Blackett says this should be more than just lip service to get its hands on the brand.

“It’s inevitable that rationalisation will have to happen and Kraft has made a lot of pledges in its offer. The key thing it needs to remember in this brand play is not to mess with the Cadbury brands so loved across the world. Focusing on enhancing marketing distribution channels and new product developments would be the best thing it could do now,” he says.

Piggy Lines, executive creative director at Carlson Marketing and a former Nestlé marketer, adds: “The question everyone’s asking is, can Kraft make the two fit? Keeping brands intact hasn’t always been a great strength in this category but I’d like to think an old Gorilla may teach Kraft a few new tricks.”

Cadbury shareholders have until 2 February to respond and Hershey may yet still make a bid. It is unclear if agencies will be affected.

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