Mondelēz CMO Dana Anderson on why marketers must ‘stop crying into their beer’ and embrace change

Mondelēz’s CMO Dana Anderson describes herself as an optimist and a strategist, characteristics she believes marketers today must possess if they are to tackle the increased pressure and changing challenges facing the industry.


Meeting Mondelēz’s CMO Dana Anderson is a whirlwind. Despite being small in stature, her charisma and way of talking are larger than life. She frantically flicks through presentation notes to make a point, whispers one minute and shouts the next – leaving you captivated but also slightly concerned you are not keeping up with her train of thought.

Even before the first question is thrown her way, she highlights a talk she is about to give at the Cannes Lions festival. It describes the current state of the industry and the increased pressure marketers are under to deliver.

She explains: “There are so many new players in the market, and I have to steer my own boat because I’m accountable and on performance-based pay. At the end of the year, [the board] asks – did you achieve your goals? So I have to face these new challenges head on. But I’m going to be on the optimistic side.”

“You can either cry into your beer and say it’s so terrible, or you can accept that there has never been a better time to be a marketer.”

Dana Anderson, CMO, Mondelēz

Anderson is no stranger to navigating change. Since she joined Mondelēz after the Kraft spin-off in 2012, the company has made a number of alterations to the way it does business. In 2014, it reorganised its budget around a zero-based model – meaning marketers have to justify spend on all new brand activity rather than budgets being based on the previous year’s outlay.

Then earlier this year, Mondelēz launched a new media model with a goal of up to 10% of its global media investments breaking even or turning a profit by 2020. And most recently, at Cannes Lions, Anderson also revealed Mondelez would be rolling out its ‘fly fearless’ model, which seeks to change the way it works with agencies, globally.

“That’s the context in which you can either choose to be overwhelmed and angry, or you can see it as an incredible opportunity to do new things,” Anderson says.

For marketers to adapt to this “new age”, they have to work differently, says Anderson. She recommends taking an approach similar to that adopted by digital giants such as Facebook and Twitter – continually testing different marketing messages and measuring effectiveness.

“That’s not how we used to work. We’d make a campaign once a year and think to ourselves: ‘We’re done here’. This is a new approach.”

Dana Anderson, CMO, Mondelēz

Putting strategy back into marketing

As well as describing herself as an optimist, Anderson also identifies with being a “strategist” due to her planning background. Before her roles at Kraft and Mondelēz, Anderson worked agency side for agencies including JWT, FCB Global and DDB.

Anderson believes every brand needs to understand why it exists if it wants to succeed and that agencies must play a vital role in steering strategy, not just coming up with one-off tactical executions.

“Some agencies are all gas and no steering wheel. They tell me they can do 20 videos, but if there’s something wrong with my branding, they can’t help me fix it,” she comments. “Strategy is important. Otherwise, [brands] will just buy everything and waste money. Even though tactics land the point, I want it to have roots. I don’t want a bunch of one-offs.”

Mondelēz is also on a mission to increase the importance of its marketers across the business. One way it is doing this is by highlighting the work the teams have been doing across the globe.

“We want to acknowledge each other’s success stories because [the teams] don’t see each other. The guy in Vietnam won’t meet the guy in Finland. We want to do pilots, introduce people and make connections,” she says.

However, Anderson admits Mondelēz still has a job to do to ensure its marketers don’t leave for younger or more exciting businesses and startups. As a result, the company provides a breadth of training courses where marketers “of all levels can learn, try and fail”.

She explains: “You can’t be afraid of your own people getting better. You want them to thrive, grow and talk about the great things that you do. That’s what makes marketers interesting, as they make stuff happen and are on the edge.”

Why eBay is the future of ecommerce

As with most FMCG companies, mobile is becoming an increasingly important part of Mondelēz’s strategy. However, Anderson acknowledges more if its marketers need to understand the requirements of the medium if they want to use it for marketing.

“It can be captivating, but you have to learn the rules of [the medium]. You need to think about the design challenges of mobile and ecommerce, as mobile [screens are] very small,” she says. “It’s about understanding the power of mobile but also the requirements of it for marketing. That’s something that we need to take out to our marketers.”

Changing consumer habits are also leading to different ways of buying. According to Anderson, the way people make decisions has fundamentally change, leading to a “new fluidity”. As a result, ecommerce is becoming increasingly important. The challenge is in making it “fun”.

“People think ecommerce is dry and that it’s all about money. But if you play around with it, it’s a lot of fun.”

Dana Anderson, CMO, Mondelēz

“You can order your ice cream with your name on it, in your favourite flavour and have it delivered to your house. Talk about the new fluidity, that’s what ecommerce is all about,” she says.

“It’s vital that we understand it, that we’re in it and participating. I can’t imagine a consumer packaged goods company that is not. In the future, everything will be up for auction. Everything will be like eBay, which is a powerful thought.”


Interested in finding out more about digital innovation? Why not visit the Festival of Marketing, which is running on the 5 and 6 October at Tobacco Dock, London. For more information about the event, including how to book tickets, click here.

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